Monday, January 25, 2016

Dairy FAQ: How do cows stay warm in the winter?

Indiana weather is crazy. I've said many times before that work doesn't stop on the farm just because of cold/hot weather, holidays, family vacations or really anything else, especially on a dairy farm. With that in mind, how do cows stay warm in the winter?

This is one of the many times when living in an enclosed barn is in the best interest of cows. Another being during the hot summers when fans, misters and shade keep cows comfortable inside. I've heard a lot of people talk about confinement barns like they are a bad thing. The opposite is true. Just because the cows are kept in a barn does not mean they are not cared for. Lots of people enjoy seeing cows out on pasture (myself included), but there are times when this is just not in the cows' best interest.

A freestall barn where cows live

There are curtains on the side of the free stall barns that can be lowered in the winter to reduce wind and keep more warm air inside. In the summer, they are raised to increase ventilation.

When it's cold, cows tend to eat more. The rumen (the largest of their four stomach compartments) is basically a big fermentation vat and helps keep them warm. Since cows are eating more, it's important to make sure they always have feed in front of them and plenty of water. Speaking of water, keeping the waterers from freezing can be a challenge at times when it gets really cold.

It's very important to keep all animals dry and keep the wind off them. This will help a lot.

Many calves live in hutches. These are little houses for the baby cows. There are calf coats that can help keep calves warm. Anything we can do to block the wind and keep them dry will help them. Making sure they have lots of food helps too.

Enjoy the rest of January and if you are looking for some healthy recipes to mix up your menu to maintain those healthy eating resolutions, check out my Chicken Taco Bowls, Lemon Pepper Tilapia or Balsamic Beef Roast.

1 comment:

  1. Things city folks never thought about! Thanks for sharing at country fair blog party! Jan @ Tip Garden