Farmers, ranchers save livestock in freezing temperatures

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 6:27 PM CST
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CHATTANOOGA, Okla. (TNN) - Tuesday morning, Cody and Kara Goodknight rushed a baby calf to the bath tub, soaked it in warm water and put a tube down its throat to funnel milk to its belly. Then it uttered a soft noise, signaling that it was still alive.

The husband and wife duo own Goodknight Farms in Chattanooga.

“The main thing is just taking care of our cattle,” Cody said. “We’ve got heifers that are calving right now. Baby calves are the most critical in this kind of weather. They’ve only got maybe two hours at the most if they don’t get cleaned off and get some warm milk in them, their survival chances go down pretty fast.”

The Goodknight’s four dogs watched as they struggled to nurse the animal back to health. After that, the two were off to the pasture to feed cattle and break the pond so that they have a water source. It took a chainsaw and an axe to pierce through the frozen water.

“We have these animals to take care of so that they can take care of us financially, so it’s our obligation to take care of them,” Cody said. “It’s a lifestyle we’ve chosen. We love what we do. Certainly, we enjoy it more on the pretty days than days like this but it’s still our lifestyle, it’s the way we support our families and employees here on the farm.”

About 30 minutes away in Geronimo, Myiul Morris is raising a two-day-old calf in her house now.

“The mother had her in freezing conditions and we were trying to dry her off,” Morris said, “but it was just way too cold to put her back, so she’s now in my bathroom having a blast and following me around the house.”

Plus, they check on their cattle and feed them at least twice a day now. In this weather, they have to eat more often because they’re using extra energy to stay warm.

“With the rolling blackouts, for people with barns with just a heat lamp in there, it’ll really be terrible because their temperatures aren’t regulated, so they’ll probably end up putting the calves in their house possibly, depending on what kind of structure they have for them set up,” Morris said.

Morris is hoping to bring the cow and calf back together later this week, so she’ll take the calf back and raise it. If not, she’ll have a bottle calf in her bathroom for a while.

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