Saturday, January 19, 2013

Put on your coats, girls!

It’s snowed, it’s thawed, it’s rained. It was 45 degrees today, headed towards a high of 9 degrees next week. It must be winter in Indiana!

The cats and I stay nice and toasty warm inside all winter long. But what about our cows? Sorry to say, but I am not letting them inside our new house. They’ll just have to tough it out outside. But we’ll help them.

fuzzy cow

Truthfully, the cows love this cold weather, and they actually need more protection from the heat than from the cold. Cows can’t sweat, and black cows (like our Angus and Angus-mix) soak up the sun and can get pretty hot pretty quickly. It’s really important that they have fresh water and shade all summer long.

hiding heifer
Fresh water and shade are still important in the winter. But we don’t do much else to protect them from the cold. Their pasture has plenty of hills and trees that act as windbreaks and shade.

hills in the pasture
Their fur coats are their best protection from the cold. And boy did they grow some fuzzy winter coats this year!

fuzzy heifer
Even our late-season calves got furry in a hurry!

fuzzy calf
We do make sure that we feed the cows well during the winter. The cows are all pregnant, and the few calves that are left are still growing. The cows need plenty of energy for their growing babies, and everybody needs just a few extra calories to burn to stay warm.

Normally we feed the cows all they hay they want and some cracked corn as an “extra.” With the drought we had in our area this year, we weren’t sure we would have enough hay,and corn got pretty expensive. So we made corn silage this year. (I’ll get into the details about silage in a later post. Basically, silage is the whole corn plant, chopped up into little pieces, and fermented for a few months until it’s “ripe.”)

headed towards silage
The cows know when the silage wagon comes into the field, and they all head that direction. Farmer Doc pours the silage on the ground behind the wagon, and the girls line up to get their afternoon snack.

behind the silage wagon
We still let them have all the hay they want, but with the silage buffet they don’t go through the hay quite as fast.

Keeping cows comfortable through the winter is a lot easier than keeping pigs comfortable in the cold… My friend Lana also takes care of some chilly cows, and Heather has got a couple of barns full of pigs to keep warm!

two fuzzy calves
What special things do you do for your family and pets during the winter?

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