News From the Moos (Bovine Blogs)
by Ganga Jal
Since our last cold spell, I’ve been hearing some chatter (human-talk) around the farm about “Those poor cows, they must be freezing on cold nights. Barns should be built—the cows shouldn’t have to stay out in the cold.”
First of all, we cows love the cooler weather and prefer it over the hot, humid summertime. We can be more active and we get to eat all the hay we want. And that’s the thing—as long as we’re well fed we can thrive in even the coldest weather.
In case you haven’t noticed, our bodies are a lot different than yours. With big bodies and a normal temperature of 101.5°F, along with leathery skin and furry hair that grows thicker in the winter, cold just doesn’t disturb cows the same way it bothers you mostly hairless, thin-skinned humans.
Another thing you should know is that we can see quite well in the dark. So it’s no big deal for us to stay up and eat on cold nights and take afternoon naps in sunny pastures.
Don’t take my word for it. You humans have done studies on climate physiology of cattle. One article even called European cows like me (Guernseys and Holsteins) “essentially arctic species . . . [with] great cold tolerance” (Journal of Dairy Science, Vol.39 No.6 715-725).
Winter shelters are recommended for more northern climates, but even then they’re for protection from the elements like wind and snow—not for the cold temperatures themselves. And we’re not talking about North Central Florida with a few below-freezing nights, but places like Wyoming and South Dakota with days on end of frigid, sub-zero temperatures.
To quote our local county extension agent from UF: “We do not get enough cold weather here in Florida to suffice the expense of shelters. Yes, we have had several cold nights in the past several weeks but not enough to worry about building a barn. As long as those cows are receiving enough nutrition to meet their needs they are pretty cold tolerant.”
So while we appreciate your concern about cold cows, please don’t worry—we’re just fine. If you do want to render some go-seva, service to the cows here at New Raman Reti, consider adopting me or one of my friends.