California cows are not happier cows … even today.
Livestock don’t like weather extremes, but Casey Langan of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation says it might come as a surprise to know that extreme heat is more damaging than this bitter cold we’re experiencing.
“The one thing cattle do in cold weather is they eat more” because, Langan says, “they need more energy to stay warm. That’s a good thing for a cow.” He says, “The worse thing is the reverse. In a heat wave, cattle stop eating and get very lethargic. That’s not good for them.”
Certainly farmers will be monitoring their livestock closely for frostbite and hypothermia, Langan says, but the cows aren’t as uncomfortable in the cold as you might think, providing they’ve got dry bedding and are kept out of the wind.
Langan says livestock farmers have a 365 day a year job, regardless of the weather. In addition to tending to the animals, there’s the mechanical aspect of farming in sub zero temperatures. Almost anything can go wrong.
“Equipment just doesn’t run as good in this type of weather. Tractors run slow — tractors need to be plugged in and brought into warmer sheds and barns. Water systems are notoriously fickle in this type of weather.
Those things will keep farmers extra busy when they’d much rather be finished with their chores and indoors where it’s warm. If they’ve got to be working, though, the barn is the place to be. All the body heat from the livestock helps to keep the building warm. That’s why farm cats and dogs love it so much.