We are in the midst of a cold spell; quite cold actually. Right now the temperature is a balmy -4 degrees and it will fall to -20 tonight. The thought alone gives me an instant brain freeze. What also is on our mind is the safety of our cattle. It is a genuine concern of all farmers and ranchers across this frigid plain. People who are outside of the agriculture industry also share the same concern about the well-being and safety of livestock. How they can survive such grueling temps? I thought it would be good to share with you how we try to manage our herd in the cold season.
Yesterday we moved our cows to an area behind some trees that would help protect them against the wind. Who can name that song, "Against the wind... We were runnin against the wind"? (Answer below) We also set out some round bales to begin our bale grazing. Bale grazing is a system where you set out multiple bales in your pasture relatively close together. The cows munch on hay, step on the hay, and "fertilize" the ground, all to help aid in the soil health of the pasture and stimulate it's growth next spring. So despite the record low temps, our cows are just fine.
Also, a cow has skin that is ten times thicker than human skin. God created the animal to withstand the cold. Their thick coat of hair helps to shed water. Even though it is cold outside, we currently have the advantage of no wind, sleet or snow in the forecast. But just when you think you have a handle on the situation, something will surely go awry. For example, last spring, MAY of all months, we received freezing temps with wind and rain. We purposely calve in late spring to avoid this problem, but on this day we ended up with four births, from new and confused mamas. We brought them into the barn, put them by a heater, and rubbed them down for hours to help increase circulation. All but one survived.
All nice and cozy.
We are always at the mercy of the elements, and no one is void of calamities whether big or small.
Secondly, we want to make sure our mama cows are in good condition. Fat insulates and helps keep them warm. Another term would be "fleshy". Who can relate? Fleshy... plump.. round.. you know ... at least I know. My Dad once had an old frame hanging on the wall with the saying..."A plump wife and a big barn, never did any man harm." I just really hope my husband doesn't' take it and hang it in our house.
So how do you know if a cow is full or empty? The rumen located on the left side of the cow will tell you. If the rumen is "full," it will be smooth and slightly rounded. But if they are in need of feed, there will be a slight sunken triangle formation indicating the stomach is empty. It's an easy way of checking to see if your cows are getting enough to eat.
This cow is full.
Rumen- First of the four chambers of digestive system.
"My New Year's resolution is to lose weight"... said no cow, EVER.
Always make sure they have plenty of fresh water. Cows can consume around 1 gallon per 100 pounds of body weight.
And refrain from smoking.
Happy New Year everyone. May you and your herd stay warm and safe this winter.
Oh, the answer.... Bob Seger. Play this so it can stay in your head all day.