ABILENE, Texas -

Big Country livestock owners are taking extra steps to keep their cattle and horses safe during the bitter cold.

The coats on horses and cattle naturally thicken up in the winter months.

During the next few days, they'll need to eat hearty.

We spoke with Dr. Allen Bolt from the Animal Health and Medical Center in Abilene to learn why.

"It's just like putting wood on a fire, if you're gonna warm up your house, you've got to use more wood." said Dr. Bolt.  "Food is a form of fuel."

The livestock will use the extra energy to keep warm but staying hydrated is even more important.

"The body splits the water molecule to generate the temperature so you've got to provide plenty of good, clean drinking water to keep them warm" explains Dr. Bolt.

Many ranchers have shelters in place for their animals but cattle actually prefer to stay outside, near a wind break like a cluster of mesquite trees.