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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Keeping the Critters Warm in the Winter.

LOVED reading the post my Real Farmwives of America and Friends pal, Heather over at 3 Kids and a lot of Pigs, entitled "Maybe it's Cold Outside".  Pigs have it rather cushy compared to our moos when it gets cold outside, but we cattle farmers come out a bit better on the energy end if the electricity goes out.  Hog farmers run their generators about 24/7 to keep the temps up in the hog houses, while we just need to run ours when we feed.

The weather changes at the blink of an eye around here. We are at the mercy of crazy weather fronts.

Yesterday, Sadie and I went out for a lovely walk.  The thermometer said 60 in the shade and over 70 in the sun.  Today, it's dropping rapidly, and there is ice and snow on the ground!

How do our cows stay warm in the winter?  Well, first they help themselves by growing a winter coat.  My niece and nephews thought Jerry looked more like a YAK at Thanksgiving because he was sooo shaggy.

We also provide them with some shelters around the lot.

But all in all, cows are good with the great outdoors...... wish I could say the same for the machinery we use to feed them.  That's a whole cow of a different color!

In the middle of starting this post, the phone rang.  It was Grandpa wanting to remind Tall Guy to go out and run the shuttles and conveyors a couple times today.

"Why?" you ask?  Well, while it was a glorious 70+ in the sunshine here yesterday, it is now 31 with a steady  sleet/freezing rain falling.  That combo is a royal pain in our rump roasts because those conveyors that bring the silage out of the silos and shuttles that help spread it in the feed bunk could very easily freeze up and refuse to budge when it comes feeding time later this afternoon.  Been there, thawed that out before, and it's NO FUN!  (I'll save that story for another post).

A lot of preparing for winter comes during the growing days.  I forgot to label the green wiggle at the upper-left of this picture, but that is a water way, and we mow it plus several others all over our almost 2000 acres and bale it for food for the cows.  Guess that plus the pasture makes them a bit grass fed.  The wheat field is also baled after the grain is cut and harvested, and that is how we make straw.  It is also baled and stored for bedding in the winter to keep the cows warm and as dry a possible when they go into the shelters.

We also grind feed based on the corn and silage we grow!

We also try to make sure all the hay feeders are filled before the, er, uhm, crappy weather hits.

Our only other worry is to make sure all the waterers outside stay heated and working through the cold snap.

But, unlike Heather's pigs, our cows are fairly happy and content being outside during most of the winter days.

So, please do not worry much about our cattle in the winter time.  Most days they are happy campers out romping in the pasture and enjoying the sun's warmth.


  1. They are hardy animals, that is for sure. We are getting much the same weather. It is crazy.

  2. I found you through some of Leontien's posts -- greetings from a fellow Hoosier! I love your photos and reading about your farm. It's a totally different lifestyle, and such a nice "escape" to read about.

  3. We've had some crazy weather too! Of course not as drastic as yours up there. Fortunately our cattle don't need the shelter and we are able to grow winter forage for them to eat. We do put out hay bales to give them some roughage to produce some body heat. Snow is like only a rumor that floats around down here. Even freezing temps don't happen that often. I will try not to complain too much anymore when it gets cold and I have to go out. Thank you for sharing! Hope you guys keep warm!




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