Interesting tidbit of the day Anchorage, Alaska is 21 degrees(F) today. Here in Ohio there’s a high of 3. Personally I don’t think the word “high” corresponds with the number “3” to well, but that’s me. When the air is frigid and the deep freeze is upon us we have to take some extra measures to keep our lovely ladies warm.
The hardest and most crucial group to keep warm are our babies. Just like human babies they are very vulnerable. Calves are born with little fat storage on their bodies. We have to keep their energy as high as possible so they can stay extra warm and toasty. A calf begins to feel cold stress at 45 degrees, can you imagine when it’s this cold how they feel? We’ve been busy keeping them warm.
One way to keep the calves warm is to give them blankets. The blankets are called calf jackets and strap around their legs to keep them secure.
This year we are trying something new to help our littlest herd members. We are now feeding our babies warm milk replacer 3 times a day instead of 2. This helps keep their energy levels more constant with more frequent meals. I don’t know about you, but it always warms me up to get a hot meal in my belly.
All of our barns are open to allow for lots of air flow and to make sure the girls are breathing in nice fresh air. This is great 1o months out of the year. While the free stall barn, where the mature cows live has large doors to pull shut, the other barns do not. So we provide wind breaks made out of large square bales of straw to keep the wind off of everyone.
The older heifers and cows are not as hard to keep warm. They naturally have more body condition (fat) on them. When temperatures start to dip, the cows take the hint to grow their hair out. The ‘do’s some of them grow are pretty nice!
Just being inside a barn with ample bedding can be a great comfort. Here’s one of our dry cows, a lady on a 2 month vacation before giving birth, checking out the snowy view from inside the warm barn. A roof and plenty of dry bedding can be a great comfort on a blustery day.
Our milking girls also have accommodations to keep them warm and dry. They live in a free stall barn. It has individual beds that are deeply bedded with sand for them. The sand is soft and comfortable. They can also sink down in to stay warm.
This has been a long, chilly winter. I, for one, am beyond ready for spring. But in the meantime we’re doing our best to stay warm!