Agricultural meteorologists from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture are warning that arctic cold is headed for the Bluegrass State.

“This is much colder air than we have seen the past couple of winters,” said Tom Priddy, UK agricultural meteorologist. “An Arctic air mass, coupled with north winds will create wind chills in the single digits at the start of this week. The single-digit wind chills, which may drop to near zero, will impact much of the area tonight and Tuesday morning.”

Priddy said the combination of cold air and high winds could put most parts of Kentucky into periods of dangerous and emergency categories for livestock cold stress after the initial system passes through.

Livestock producers should make sure animals have adequate shelter, water, dry bedding and feed to make it through this cold spell. Pet owners should bring pets indoors. UK livestock specialists said animals have a higher requirement for energy in the colder months, so producers should have high-quality grains and forages on hand to meet their needs.

The average horse, with a lower activity level, should eat between 1.5 and 2 percent of its body weight in feed per day to maintain its weight. UK equine specialist Bob Coleman said that feed requirement goes up in the winter, as the horse uses more calories to keep warm. He recommended providing extra hay and making sure horses have shelter to get out of windy, damp weather. He said it’s also important for horses to have access to clean, unfrozen water.

Ambient temperatures can impact the amount of dry matter cattle eat, providing an opportunity to compensate for increased maintenance energy needs. Producers either need to increase their animals’ feed intake or increase the energy density of the diet by feeding higher quality hay or adding more grain or fat to the grain mix, said UK beef specialist Jeff Lehmkuhler.

Lehmkuhler recommended that producers continue to monitor cows during the wintertime and make sure to maintain the animals’ body condition.