We receive a good amount of interest regarding the cows in the winter months. “What do you do in the winter?” “Do you heat the barns?” “What do you do about the snow?”
One of our primary objectives on the farm is to produce some of the freshest, best tasting milk. We accomplish this by taking really good care of the cows. That means making sure they stay comfortable in the winter, as well as the summer.
In the winter, we heat the barns with many heaters- the heaters are called cows. Just like many people in a room can raise the temperature, its the same with the cows. Their body temperature is 101.5 degrees F, much higher than people. We also side the barns with curtains that roll up in the summer and down in the winter (see photo). These curtains are designed to cut down drafts so the cows stay much warmer. During the winter months, the barn will be warmer inside than outside.
Like most animals, cows are designed to handle cold temperatures better than people. They have a thick hide, and grow a thicker ‘winter coat’ of hair. Keeping them dry also helps them stay warm. We do this by maintaining clean barns, along with clean bedding to lay on.
All the cows receive the same high quality food ration they eat the rest of the year. When they keep their rumen full (1 of their 4 stomachs), their metabolism is fired up, just like stoking a furnace.
Being located in West Michigan means a lot of snow some winters. If the snow piles up and gets in our way, we just move it out of the way with our farm equipment so we can better access all our barns.