When sleet or snow approaches, farmers make sure the herd has a clean and dry place to rest. Thanks to their thick skin, hair and natural insulation, cows actually prefer temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees. As long as they’re well fed and have dry bedding, cows don’t mind the cold and will stay warm and comfortable outside or in their barns. Calves are given extra straw bedding and calf jackets to keep them warm and cozy in their hutches.
Farmers also increase the amount of their feed along with the vitamins and minerals. This supplements the extra energy that cows are expending in keeping their body temperatures up. Farmers make sure that food is available 24/7 to make sure they are well-fed.
Wind chill has the same effect on cows that it does on people. Creating wind breaks with hay bales or earthen berms helps to protect their herds from harsh winds during the winter. Wooded areas also provide shelter from the wind. Farmers also monitor the temperature inside their barns and close the sides if needed.
In Oregon, where winters are usually mild, cows typically stay comfortable year-round. When a cold snap appears, farmers and animal care teams are ready to spring into action to take care of their herds.
In 2018, when temperatures hovered around zero and high winds created large drifts of snow, the animal care team at Threemile Canyon Farms worked hard, aided by the warmth of winter hats from ODNC, to take care of the 30,000+ milking cows on their farm.
At Poland Dairy, the family worked around the clock when winter weather descended on their farm in 2018. As snow fell thick on their farm, two calves were born. Dairy farmer Deanna Poland remarked on facing challenges during this time, “…it’s what we love and it’s our passion- in good times and bad times!”
Oregon farmers care about their animals, and they know that paying special attention to their cows, whether it’s snowy or sunny, helps them to create a healthy herd.