Monday, January 18, 2016

A Day In The Life Of Red Poll Cattle In Winter

I go out to the barn each morning, just as the sun adds enough light to see a bit, and ring a bell to call the cows in for grain. They are happy to do so and begin making their way, single file, across the snowy ground on their way to the barn:

They arrive in the barn all covered with snow, and find their own stalls. I give them some sweet grain and then they go back outdoors to spend the day. In cold, snowy weather, I open up the barn for them at night. Cleaning up the next morning, as you can imagine, is quite a messy job:

Their hay bale feeder was rather far out in the field while the weather was relatively mild:

But when it really turned cold and snowy, I tipped the eight foot diameter bale feeder up on end and rolled it all the way back to the east side of the barn, where the cattle could have some protection from the cold, westerly winds:

Moving the bale feeder also made it easier for the girls to reach the edible parts of the bale. Much of the outside of each bale is frozen, so they like to eat the inside:

Jasmine walked over to the tractor and sniffed it:

They all searched for unfrozen hay while I headed back to the barn:

I rolled the bale feeder to the east side of the barn, where they like to hang out anyway:

And then I used the tractor to drop two four-foot diameter hay bales into the feeder:

 The Red Poll girls were happy to have fresh hay, even if the outside of the bales was frozen hard:

 To get the good stuff, they just dig into the middle of the bales:

And, being ruminants, each feeding spree is followed by a relaxing cud chewing time. Life is hard for cattle in the winter, but I try to make it as easy for them as possible. Frankly, they don't seem to mind the cold or snow at all - but I sure do:


  1. Thanks for your post. How much hay do you need per cow to make it through the winter?

    1. I calculate it each year and have averaged 13.55 four foot diameter bales (50.26 cu ft per bale) per cow per winter. Our hay feeding period has averaged 172.5 days each year.