Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Great Cow Rebellion Of 2015

The Red Poll girls have seemed almost immune to the cold, a dramatic improvement from last winter, when they were skinny and newly arrived from the warmth of Virginia:

I keep a heater in their stock tank so they have drinkable water at about 40 degrees at all times, day and night:

In fact, they seldom slept in the barn this winter, preferring to sleep outside on the hay they've pulled out of their bale feeder:

This scene looked alarming when I first saw it, but it was only Jasmine, too lazy to stand up but wanting to see me walking toward her. I've learned that the cows can sleep in almost any position a dog can - except, of course, for on their backs. I really will be alarmed if I ever see that!:

The girls are covered with frost, snow and icicles every morning when they come in for grain:

Their hay bale feeder was out in the field all winter until I realized how much frigid wind that location was subjecting them to:

So I moved the bale feeder over to the east side of the barn, where they often huddled to get out of the west winds. I soon learned, however, that many of the hay bales were so full of ice that I had to move the feeder off of them to allow for easier access:

From that point on, I put all new hay bales on the east side of the barn, out of the wind. I used the bale feeder if the hay was loose, but did not use it if the bale was frozen:

I continued to clean manure out of the barn each morning and give the cows grain twice a day. I put down fresh bedding hay after cleaning the barn. But the cows liked the bedding hay more than the feed hay and. one evening, they rebelled after coming in for their second feeding. They refused to eat their grain and were gobbling up the hay I'd so carefully put down on the floor. When I tried to shoo them out of the barn, they refused to go and I began to fear getting trampled or kicked. I picked up a cane and banged it on a metal post so hard that it shattered, but they were unimpressed. I called that "The Great Cow Rebellion Of 2015:"

Since then, I've no longer given them grain in the evening. I've continued to put down bedding hay and let them into the barn just at dark each night. True to form, they gobble up all the bedding hay and then go outside to sleep for the night. I figure it's not a perfect system, but it's working for now:

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