How do animals stay warm in the winter?

If you have pets, you know that animals add extra (temporary) fur for the winter and then shed it (all over your house) when the weather warms up.  Farm animals are no different, they’ll add fur to help insulate themselves against the winter chill.  It’s because of this long coat that you’ll often see horses feeding or bedded down despite the chilly weather and even falling snow.  Like snow on top of a well-insulated house, unmelted snow on the back of a horse or cow indicates that the animal is warm on the inside.

Farmers provide animals with shelter.  In the simplest form, shelter may consist of a three-sided building.  Animals like horses and beef cows will primarily use this shelter during rainfall.  The building will allow fresh, clean air to circulate, which helps keep the animals healthy.

In the Midwest, most dairy animals are kept indoors to protect them from the cold winters and from hot, unrelenting summers.  Even these well insulated barns have large panels to allow in fresh air.  In the summer, the panels will again be opened to allow air to circulate.  Many farmers will use sprinklers and fans to further cool their animals in the summer heat.

Farmers are committed to ensuring the health of their animals.  That commitment doesn’t change when the weather gets cold.

Got a question?  Submit it to bona@cookcfb.org. We’ll share questions with our farmers and publish their answers as space allows in upcoming issues of The Co-Operator.