Wis. farmers brace for subzero temperatures

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 --- 4:15 p.m.

Farming runs in Cory Brown's blood. "My grandfather, my father my mother and myself all work on the farm."

He grew up milking the family's 500 cows on their Belleville farm. Now 21, Cory can handle just about anything Mother Nature throws his way.

"We grumble about it," Brown said. "But with the tools we have today, everything keeps moving, even when it's fairly cold. Our barn will actually work til about zero degrees."

But with temperatures expected to reach as low as negative 20 degrees Sunday into Monday, he and other farmers across Wisconsin are bracing for some weather-related challenges.

"The worry is mostly our water system freezing up because once our water system breaks down our animals won't have water," Brown said. "We won't have water to heat other things. The manure that our animals produce will freeze and we won't be able to keep the pens clean."

So in his thickest winter gear, Brown spent the past week insulating the barns, stocking up on special bedding and increasing the animals' calories to help them stay warm.

"We're going to be looking for frost bite on the animals. With the colder snap earlier, we did have a little frost bite on some of our younger animals. It will definitely be a big concern here," he said. "Ourselves, working outside, even our employees working inside. This barn is not 100 percent cold-proof. It will be very chilly inside."