Overcoming the Winter Blues

Feb 4, 2020 | Industry News

Remember the last time it was bitterly cold and snowing? Think about how many layers of clothing you or your children had to wear while being outside? Now, imagine yourself as a farmer and not only worrying about the number of layers of clothes that you’re wearing but keeping your animals safe and warm throughout the long winter months as well.

Winter is a symbol of transition on the farm. Harvest is completed and spring planting hasn’t yet arrived. However, there is no room for rest on dairy farms because no matter the temperature, milking occurs every day. Winter means additional challenges and long days ahead to ensure animals are healthy, safe, and warm.

Here are some ways that dairy farmers care for their animals during the winter months.

Calves

  • Fresh, dry bedding – Calves are born year-round on dairy farms and mothers do the best they can to quickly clean and dry their calves, and providing fresh, dry bedding helps newborn calves start off on the right foot.
  • Warming huts – Some dairy farms are fortunate to have warming huts which are enclosed areas and act similar to hair dryers. Warm air is blown onto the calves to quickly dry them off and warm them up.
  • Jackets – As soon as calves are dry, farmers will put a jacket on them to keep them warm and dry. The calves are able to walk, run and play, just as they would in the summertime.

Cows

  • Access to fresh water – Even with cooler temperatures, cows drink a lot of water in the winter — up to 30-50 gallons a day. With freezing temperatures, farmers ensure water availability is plentiful.
  • Continuous feed supply – Due to increased metabolism an adequate feed supply allows cows to generate natural warmth.
  • Moisturizing udder balm – Similar to the chapped lips that people get, udders may also get chapped so farmers apply a moisturizing udder balm for preventative measure.

Farmers can’t control Mother Nature but they can control how to react to the conditions that are given to them. So the next time you’re bundled up playing in the snow or curled up in your flannel sheets, take a moment and remember the extra-long hours that your neighboring dairy farmer is working every day to make sure his or her cows are tucked in nice and warm each night.

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