Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cow Protection in a Cold Climate

This winter we are having below freezing temperatures. The cows have grown furry coats to keep them warm. Some of them are hard to recognize in comparison to how they looked in the summer with their sleek shiny coats.

They voluntarily go outside the barns in the cemented area between the geriatric barn and the old barn, but they are not going as far as the barnyard. They prefer to stay close to the food, shelter, and water.

Because the temperatures have been well below freezing (one day it was -20 below 0), there is ice almost entirely sealing the water troughs that must be broken twice a day even though we have trough heaters. This afternoon the ice was so thick in one trough that I could only break some of it. With slightly lower temperatures the next day, the water heater was more effective.

Dwadasi taking a drink before I broke the ice

While I feel that I am fighting for survival in the cold and snow, I will see a cow standing in the cemented area chewing her cud covered in snow with some of it freezing on her ears and chin. She will remain contented, as if it is no big deal and she isn’t bothered in the least.

Shyama chewing her cud

Taking care of cows in a cold climate is definitely full of challenges not found in a warm climate. Hay has to be grown, harvested, and moved to the cows. Shelter has to provided from the wind, snow, and ice that is sufficient for the long winter months. Labor is needed to feed the cows daily. Frostless water hydrants and troughs must be operating to supply water. For those cows that are old and diseased, separate yet connected shelter gives them comfort in the cold months. All this and more as opposed to constant grazing on green pastures that is allowed in a warm climate.

submitted by Chayadevi

1 comment:

Richard M. Boyden said...

It is hard to believe that cows are not affected by 20 below weather with snow and ice. What are some suggestions for helping the cows to cope, and the efficacy of each suggestion? How about a fireplace, centrally located indoors, where the cows could get some relief from the cold? Or a bonfire outside on clear days? How about activity, such as going for long walks, or hauling logs?
How about sugar cookies during the winter rather than during the summer? Or molasses? How about grain supplements during the winter for retired cows? (Corn, oats, barley, etc) I guess it boils down to laxmie. (moolah)