With all these cold temperatures it takes extra ‘measures’ on a farm. Our cows are meant to be outside and their bodies are made to withstand multiple temperature circumstances. This doesn’t mean that a farmer doesn’t want to take extra care of them. On our farm there are many procedures for colder weather.
A.) Turn all the water heaters on. The water heaters have to be taken out in the spring, so they are re-installed at the beginning of fall.
B.) Check all waters to make sure that they are flowing and not froze. (Even if there is a heater, they can still blow a fuse and cause the waters to freeze.)
1.) The babies that are newly weaned are the biggest concern on my farm. We have a shed for them to lay in, but we want it soft and warm in there for them. We leave a little manure on the cement to act as a cushion and then bring in *stock bales. Every other day we take in a round bale of stocks, use the skid-steer to spread it out and then the babies have a nice fresh bed that is dry, warm, and soft.
2.) The fat steers are next. They have a shed of their own and are given the same treatment. They have less of an area to cover since there are less of them, so we use small square bales to bed them.
3.) The new heifers have a shed where they go to get out of the wind. This is also bedded and made comfortable for all the new ladies on the farm.
4.) Our cows outside don’t get any bedding because they have the run of the farm and some of the softest, warmest spots around.
D.) Having a good source of food. Everything on our farm is given high quality alfalfa hay, corn, and protein. This allows them to have high energy sources in their bodies to produce the heat they need to stay warm. The babies get corn/protein mix, silage, and 3rd crop hay. The fat steers get a really good source of high energy feed-stuffs. Then the heifers are given corn silage, silage, and 2nd crop hay. The cows are given the same thing as the heifers.
E.) Windbreaks for the cows. We maintain windbreaks for the cows all year round. They allow the cows to stand in an area that doesn’t have the harsh affects of the wind and helps them stay warmer.
F.) Medicine. During the winter calves are more likely to get sick, so we keep lots of medicine (one for each common disease) in our refrigerator. This way we don’t have to rely on the vet to have it and we can treat the sick baby right away so they get better, faster.
G.) Calf Warmers. Sometimes calves get sick or are born in cold weather. Stuff happens. A calf warmer brings the calf to a healthy temperature to help them stay alive and get out of the ‘cold shock’.
F.) We keep ourselves healthy so we can go outside every day, twice a day, to feed and take care of these animals. They would probably be just fine, but they are our living and passion. We do everything in our power to make sure they are happy and healthy cows!
*Stock bales are bales of corn stocks that have been cut down after harvest. The corn stocks have to be harvested, let dry on the ground, (some people have to cut them, depends on the picker), raked, let dry some more, and then finally baled. These bales are then kept in a barn to keep the snow/rain off them so they are clean and dry for the babies in the winter.