As humans we prepare for the cold winter months by wrapping up in hats and scarves, sipping hot drinks and kitting out our homes with cosy blankets. In the same way, we need to prepare our farm animals for the cold. I’m not sure about you but I’ve never seen a cow bundled up in a hat and scarf or drinking hot chocolate. So what exactly does winter preparation look like on a farm?
First of all, it is important to mention that cows are warm-blooded animals. In actual fact, cows prefer slightly colder temperatures. The temperatures during winter in California are just about perfect for rearing cattle.
Cows have an incredible layer of thick skin and hair which provides them with insulation. This layer grows longer and thicker during the winter months, for extra warmth. Cows are also prepared for the snow, which in some states falls all winter long. Their long hair catches the snow and forms a layer over them which creates an air pocket that is warmed by the cows natural body temperature.
There are still ways that farmers and cattle ranchers can help their cattle prepare for the winter. For example, if the cattle aren’t being well fed they will get cold. Without enough food, the cattle simply won’t have the energy to generate body heat and maintain their core temperature.
In some states where winter temperatures drop very low, farmers should be providing their cattle with shelter. Although cattle usually like open space, when a winter storm hits, getting to safety becomes a priority. Without the right shelter, the cows may panic and become distressed. There are a variety of ways to provide shelter, for example, three sided sheds, hills, gillies and thickets of trees can all work as wind breakers.
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