Weather hampers livestock feeding, foaling

David and Ashley Tucker have more than 700 mouths to feed, and on a good day, it takes six hours. On days like Wednesday, it could take all day. "It takes twice as long to do anything," David Tucker said Wednesday just before noon. "It took 20 minutes to get a lock unfroze on the gate."

Their cattle are spread over eight farms in Fayette County, and what with blocked roads and downed trees, limbs and power lines, the Tuckers had to get creative.

"We can't get to some of our farms," Ashley Tucker said. One hay lot off Todds Road was blocked by downed power lines; the last time that happened, David Tucker said, they lost some cattle. In some cases, they had to go through neighboring farms to get hay to their cattle. They might have to plow paths to ponds so the cows can get water.

Cattle farmers all over Kentucky faced the same problems.

In Tucker's case, he has 50,000 pounds of extra cattle to feed over the next few days because trucks that were to pick up a load of cattle Thursday can't get through. And calving season has begun — three were born Tuesday night. They are safe and sound for now. "It's wet, it's nasty, but it's not zero," Tucker said.

It also is foaling season on Central Kentucky horse farms. The power went out at WinStar Farm in Versailles about 3 a.m. and a foal was born about 4 a.m., said farm president Doug Cauthen. "Apparently, they foaled by car light."

Crews worked to clear farm roads, cut up limbs and repair fences so farms could turn out horses Thursday if the weather permits.

Many horse farms learned from the major ice storm in 2003, when power was out in much of the region for more than a week. "Now we have power generators and spotlights we can use for foaling mares," said Tony Burton, one of the broodmare managers at Three Chimneys in Midway.

Eric Hamelback, general manager at Adena Springs in Paris, said about 90 percent of the farm lost power Wednesday just after noon. His big concern, he said, was the potential for frozen water lines. "The heaters, obviously, in the watering systems aren't functioning," he said.

At Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Lexington, power was out to the yearling division and the home of farm manager Joe Ramsey. "It's nothing like the 2003 storm for us yet, as far as the amount of trees and damage, but it's much colder," he said. "I think the next few days are going to be pretty tough. ... I do have several mares close to foaling and, by golly, if we've got to use a flashlight, we just do."