Posts Tagged ‘cattle care’

More than a few people have asked me lately, “Do you put your cows inside when it gets really cold out?” Oh, goodness…we don’t have the biggest herd in the world, but it would still take quite a structure to keep them all in!

There is no doubt, this winter has been an interesting one. We have had long stretches of temps below zero at night and only in the single digits during the day. And then, and NOT disappointing to my cold-intolerant body, we have had some grill outdoors, play-in-the-yard, wear-short-sleeves kind of days! As much as I love those warm days for me, they are actually too warm for the cows who have their “winter coats” on.

Mama and Baby

Mama and Baby

As you can tell from the picture, the cows don’t get to be indoors when it is cold out. We will bring in one who is ready to calve, let the baby get good and dry and nurse, and then turn them out.  God made animals, cattle in particular, very hardy! We certainly do our best to keep them comfortable by having shelter from wind, putting down bedding (straw), and always making sure they have hay to eat and fresh water.  They have a layer of fat, thik skin, and plenty of hair to keep them comfortable.  While I am layering on the amazingly sexy layers of long johns, sweatshirts, coveralls, and coats, those mama’s are doing just fine in their God-given body armor.

So, as we go through these last weeks (I so dearly hope…last…) of winter, enjoy some delicious stew or meatloaf, or whatever you consider comfort food. Before you know it, the grass will begin turning green and it will be time to grill for every meal!

Even when it’s cold, we get to enjoy views like this…


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We live in Nebraska where if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours; it is certain to change! We received all of that welcome moisture a while back, in the form of snow, which has now melted. It is a muddy mess! What, you ask, to I mean by “it”? “It” includes every place that has soaked up all of that melting snow and is not drying out – driveways, roads, and most certainly, cattle pens.

These are my fun flowery (I get them with flowers so my kids won't borrow them so much!) chore boots before feeding time.

I will say this – traveling through those pens, doing my very best to keep my balance as I haul buckets, check waterers, and pitch hay is an outstanding workout for the thighs, hips, calves, and stomach; not to mention the arm strength built by holding the buckets and catching myself before going completely down. The resulting toned muscles are most certainly appreciated! The impending laundry challenge, not so much. Luckily, there are four of us in the family that can take care of chores and Matt is SO good to usually take the morning rounds!

These are my boots post feeding. The pens didn't have deep mud, just slippery for my less than graceful self!

So, if I don’t like being in those muddy pens, what about the cattle that live in them? Actually, they get some spots that are not so muddy to lie down. It just happens the paths I have to take are quite slippery! We have nice slope to our pens, so the mounds or tops of the pens dry quicker than the bottoms. We also bladed out some of the snow so it wouldn’t melt directly in the pens. We do provide some straw, so they have a “bed.”

God was very smart when he created animals that are meant to be able to handle conditions other than the comfort of a house, street, sidewalk, and so on, like us humans. He gave the critters (cows) four legs & lots of hair! They have a WAY better sense of balance in slippery conditions than I do! Snow, rain, mud, wind, it is all part of nature; and animals were created to be able to handle much of what Mother Nature throws their way. However, when we can make them more comfortable, we do. We (we, here, is a generalization of livestock farmers) build windbreaks and scrape pens for cattle and sheep, we keep pigs and poultry in climate controlled buildings so they can be comfortable all of the time, and we make sure all of them have proper nutrition for the conditions and plenty of fresh water.

Comfortable animals, typically, are healthy animals. Healthy animals create healthy and safe food. I appreciate being able to give my family safe food from the grocery store & I hope you do, too.

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If you have been following my blog from my early days….all the way back to last winter/spring, you would know that extremely cold conditions make for challenging days for farmers & ranchers – especially for those who have cattle.  Well, Mother Nature is being every bit as sassy in the summer months, this year!  Much of the U.S.  is experiencing an extreme heat wave – with not only heat, but more importantly, humidity, making miserable conditions for animals and people.  Sweating profusely is certainly the norm in our neighborhood these days – one certainly doesn’t have to worry about being embarassed by a soaked-through shirt…everyone else around is in the same condition!  I’m pretty sure Secret and Axe are doing especially well these last couple of months…maybe I should have paid attention to the weather forecast and bought stock!

So, what do cattle producers do when extreme heat sets in?  Different producers have different methods and capabilities, but everyone does the best they can to keep animals as comfortable as possible.  For the feedyards, many will alter diets slightly or feed at such a time that cattle ruminate (or digest) primarily in the cooler hours of the night.  Some feedyards have sprinkler systems or water trucks to soak the cattle & try to cool them in the heat of the day.  Everyone makes sure there is plenty of fresh, clean water available for drinking at all times!

Ranchers, or cow-calf producers, don’t have the opportunity to soak cattle with cool water.  However, I guarantee – as much as you love finding a shade tree on a  hot day, so do the cows!  If pastures have ponds, you will often find a swimming party going on.  The cows will do their grazing during the evening and early morning when it’s cooler and hang out either in the water or the shade during the heat of the day.  The rancher can be considered the cows’  “cabana boy” bringing them salt, mineral, and cubes as they are needed.  In some of the seriously drought stricken areas, water has to be hauled to the pastures every day, as ponds are  completely dried up.  The “Ladies” definitely appreciate all the attention and tender loving care!

I think when it is really hot out is the time a few of the cows at our place really appreciate being Kaydee and Emmet’s 4-H and FFA projects.  They get ALL KINDS of attention!  They are rinsed EVERY day, sometimes TWICE!  They get to lie under big fans & have their favorite feed provided twice a day.  They are so spoiled!  All they need now is, well, nothing – they have it all!  For them, it’s like being on a luxury vacation!

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