Polar Vortex Affects Ohio Crops and Livestock

Image courtesy of Bill Griffin 
Months ago, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a “frigid winter with bitter cold and heavy snow,” but this season is turning out to be rougher than expected. Above average snowfall and extreme temperatures are causing problems for many farmers across Ohio.

During the week of Jan. 26, the minimum temperature across Ohio reached 11 below zero, as reported in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin. This is a 10-degree departure from average minimum temperatures.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, much of Ohio’s wine-grape, peach and blackberry crops have been lost. Fruit buds, bushes, vines and trees have sustained damage, although the exact magnitude of the damage is unknown. 

“The viniferous or European grape varieties have probably sustained 90 to 100 percent injury to their primary buds,” said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist.

Dick Jensen, owner of the Flying J Wellness Farm, said his spinach and kale crops stopped growing.

“Last year, we had beautiful spinach, kale and arugula all winter,” Jensen said. “This year, everything pretty much died.”

In addition to freezing crops, the cold streak also disrupted grain and livestock shipments across the United States. Frozen troughs have affected milk production on Stacy Atherton’s family owned Shipley Farms in Newark, Ohio.

“We were down on milk quite a bit, two pounds per cow,” Atherton said. That added up to a “1,000 pounds’ difference from what we normally ship in a day.”

The extreme cold affected many crops and livestock alike. How has the extreme cold affected your farm?

Warm thoughts for the frozen donkeys

In the past month, Ohioan’s have experienced some of the coldest recorded temperatures in decades. Just this week, we were blasted with yet another winter storm heralded by news teams as our biggest this season.

It has been a particularly frosty start to the year, especially for our outdoor animals. Earlier in January, around the time of the “polar vortex,” I read a slew of online articles about keeping livestock and pets safe during periods of dangerous cold.

Here are the most sensible tips I read on OCJ.com, including these specific for livestock without access to a barn:
Provide windbreak protection to lower the effects of wind chill on energy needs
Move animals out of muddy conditions or reduce the mud with a feeding pad
Increase access to better quality forage
Limit corn or high-energy, non-starch feedstuff

It was this story however by Turkish news site DHA about a herd of unattended donkeys, frozen together in a snow-encrusted huddle that made me gasp. Watch the footage filmed by the DHA news crew in the village Siverek, as the donkeys stand so close for warmth they appear frozen solid. 

I’m relieved to report that a team was sent to rescue the donkeys, which were taken to a nearby animal shelter for emergency care.

Warm thoughts for us all to get through this final winter stretch.

Photo obtained from: www.todayszaman.com