MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 3, 2014

Temperature troubles

Ag students cope with fluctuating thermometer

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Balmy highs and frigid lows have not been good for animals being prepped for livestock shows, Fort GIbson ag teachers and students say.

“It’s been terrible,” said ag teacher Bryan Craig. “If it would stay cold, it would be better. Or if it would stay warm. It’s hard to prepare for a 40-degree change in the weather.”

Fluctuations are especially hard on hogs and cattle, said Joe Osborn, who also teaches ag.

With swine, the fluctuation in temperature affects consumption of feed, Osborn said.

“Appetites are changing and they can’t get adjusted,” he said.

Last week, students were at a pig show in Eufaula.

“When we got there in the morning, it was freezing,” Osborn said. “In the afternoon, it was 75 degrees and those pigs were extremely hot. That’s not an abnormally high temperature, but it’s just the fluctuation.”

FGHS junior Hayden Perry said he has put twice as many bags of wood shavings in his pig pens because of the cold weather. The shavings act as an insulation for the pigs, he said.

“I put down two bags,” he said. “It lasts a week and a half.”

Hayden said he also has increased the wattage on his heat lamps.

Craig said about half the livestock are kept at the school’s ag building. Half are at students’ homes or other facilities.

“All our hogs have a dry, draft-free environment,” Osborn said. “Our barn is not climate-controlled, but it stays nice and warm in those sleeping areas.”

Students’ show cattle also have been affected, Osborn said.

“Cold days are great, we want those cattle to have hair,” he said. “But on warm days, it can trigger cattle to start to shed. It’s not just temperature.”  

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee

phoenix.com.