By Craig Day, The News On 6

ROGERS COUNTY -- Oklahoma's agriculture industry is feeling the effects of the bitter cold spell.

Single-digit temperatures and a wind chill well below zero can take a toll on livestock. 

When it gets this cold, part of a rancher's daily routine is chopping, hacking and busting their way through ice so cattle can get to water.

"This cattle business is a lot of fun, until the weather gets like this," said Joe Don Eaves, a rancher.

At Joe Don Eaves' ranch near Inola, if they aren't breaking ice, they're putting out extra hay and feed. It has been like this for ranchers across Oklahoma since the Christmas Eve blizzard.

"About all they get is what we give them and the hay pile is going down fast in this kind of weather," said Joe Don Eaves.

Eaves says if they can keep the cattle full, it will keep their body temperature up. That prevents ice from developing on their backs, which causes their thick winter coat to lose its insulation properties.

One of the biggest concerns for ranchers in this kind of weather is the survival of newborn calves. If they can get to them quickly and get them dried off, or maybe put them in the pickup for little while to warm them up, or get them off the ice and snow, chances are they will make it.

"That first 30 minutes or hour is what is critical," said Joe Don Eaves.

With temperatures at their lowest point in more than a decade, Eaves' ranch has lost five animals, mostly newborn calves, but also one cow that fell through the ice. 

So, they'll keep busting ice and putting out feed, while keeping an eye on the herd and the weather.

"We just hope for the best and do all we can to take care of them. That's about all we can do and hope this weather lets up soon," said Joe Don Eaves.

Ranchers are going through a lot more hay than normal right now. The state agriculture department has a hay hotline and an online hay directory for ranchers looking to buy more hay.

The Oklahoma Hay Hotline is 800-580-6543.

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