Winter wind protection and use of summer breezes to advantage are essential to successful feedyard operation. Cold drafts and winds promote stress and re- strict normal cattle production. Research on wind effects on cattle has shown that hair coat, color, and sunshine all have an influence on their heat losses.
Consequently, the increase in feed intake and heat loss caused by the wind are variable. In general, how- ever, a 20 mile per hour wind is considered equivalent to an extra 30 degrees of cold. Winds often blow a considerable amount of feed from exposed feedbunks. This leaves the coarser, less palatable portions. Wind also dries out exposed feed and carries off nutrients. Snow drifts in the cattle yard and travel areas are a problem. Summer breezes assist cooling, but also carry odors, dust, and windbreak fencing have been used for wind protection of eating, watering, and resting areas about the feedyard.
Location and construction of these windbreaks will be discussed here. Use windbreak fencings to supplement natural wind barriers of larger scale. When available locate, arrange, and develop cattle areas to utilize trees for winter wind protection, to control snow drifting, and provide shade in summer. Take advantage of hills, buildings, and hay stacks to provide general winter protection and yet take advantage of summer air movement and allow for feedyard drainage. Remember that when the speed of wind is slowed, blowing snow drops out and piles up. Usually this drifted snow has to be moved out of the cattle and working areas to permit winter traffic and reduce spring thaw problems: So, slowing or stopping the wind can change one problem to another.
Information on prevailing wind directions can be obtained from the National Climatic Center, Federal Building, Asheville, North Carolina 28801. Prevailing winds can vary from one time of the year to another. Indicate which times of the year are the most important when asking for specific wind direction and speed information. Usually cold, winter winds are most harmful to cattle production. Strong summer breezes, however, need to be considered for air movement along feedbunks, odor control, dust, and insect movement.