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Dec 26, 2020 | 11:46 1 What do others have for beef cow accommodations?

Mine have a windbreak of corn stover bales and the barn wall. No indoor access, water at the creek 100 yard away.

When we had the big herd, they had a bit of a gravel pit to shelter in with a thick bush on the west side giving lots of shelter from the prevailing westerlies. I also provided a concave row of corn stover bales stacked 2 high which they could shelter from about any wind.

I would unroll their hay out in the field with a 3 pt hitch bale unroller that I built, 1 bale to 25 cows, at about 3PM each day. Mostly cleaned up before they laid down in the bit that was left.

Reportedly, their body temp would peak at the coldest part of the night with the late-day feeding.

I still feel sorry for the old girls standing out there with a layer of snow on their backs in stormy weather like this.

But I've seen them with 6" long icicles hanging from their lower sides and they didn't seem the least bothered as long as they had shelter from the wind.
Last edited by burnt; Dec 26, 2020 at 13:32.
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Blaithin's Avatar Dec 26, 2020 | 18:03 2 Mine just have various tree lines for the most part. There is a three sided shelter behind the barn I can let them into if there’s somebody I think could use a bit extra. Each pasture has a bedding pack for them to snooze on and they all water at the trough at the barn.

Feeding varies from free access to a bale ring to let into feed at the bale ring for a bit to feed hauled out to them. Only time they really come in the barn is if they’ve calved and the weather is crap.

Snow on their back is a good sign. On the rare times I see someone with no snow they get pulled in to the three sided shelter and get extra grub.

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DaneG's Avatar Dec 27, 2020 | 11:20 3 My cows have bush for shelter if there is more wind they go another 100’ deeper in, the only straw they get is in a bale feeder. Reply With Quote
Dec 27, 2020 | 11:25 4 Ours have some bush lines in a coulee to help with the North west wind and they also have portable panels with 10' boards that we put in a u shape formation.. if it gets really nasty.. -35 and wind they can come into the yard where they have the traditional cattle shed(three sided structure with a roof). they typically bale graze but when in the cattle shed we go back to the bale feeders... not my favourite. Just installed a new Ritchie water bowl this fall to replace the old faithful Ritchie that has been there since 1964(finally rusted out). We normally only start the tractor to shred straw as most of the hay bales are out in a bale graze , I only keep back some for the shitty weather so we dont need to go out the field to pick bales.
Last edited by tweaker101; Dec 27, 2020 at 11:27.
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Dec 27, 2020 | 14:17 5 It may have seemed like a strange question, but it wasn't until our barn burned in December 2008 that I discovered that cows can actually winter outside if they have a windbreak.

Since then they have mostly lived on the land. I have been known to open the door if there was a real blizzard going on for very long. But when they all packed in, it's not clear that they were much better off.

One huge saving that I noticed was needing far less - almost zero - bedding. And followed by having about 1/10 of the manure to spread in the spring.

And unrolling the hay across a select field would make them put the nutrients where needed most. Significant gains in herd health and economy achieved!

Only have a small handful of cows now and it's not much of an issue anymore.

I remember one winter we had February calves from some wild black cows from the west. Was watching one super spooky girl from the far end of the board windbreak fence. Feet and head were out, her laying down.

All of a sudden over her shoulder she spied me spying on her, jumped up, spun around to face me and the calf shot out and landed in a 4' deep snowbank that had formed around the windbreak fence.

It was a sunny clear morning, 0 F, a 100 degree drop in temp!!!! The Wim Hof method on full display.

The lil bugger was up and sucking in less than 10 minutes. Reply With Quote
Dec 27, 2020 | 14:28 6 Haha, made me think of a legendary cow from that same bunch that got herself memorialized in poem back in 2005. There may have been a bit of poetic license applied, but the old girl's wrath is unexaggerated:

“ # 88 ”

Good cows will come, bad cows will go, but let me now relate,
the chilling saga of one mean cow, ole’ “ # 88 ” .

An Angus fine with udder tight, she showed no fear or hate
Until the day she dropped her calf, within the barnyard gate.

My teenaged daughter let me know about the new calf’s birth,
“But dad,” she said, “the momma’s wild, how much is your life worth?”

I smiled and shrugged, “Oh not to fear, I’ve seen some nervous cows,
this one’s no worse than all the rest, I’ve come through several rows.”

So off we strolled to the back barn dark where dimly in the corner
The new calf lay deep in the straw, but then she blew her “warner”!

From fifty feet we saw her eyes, the whites were fully bared
Her head was high and ears straight for’ard and nostrils widely flared.

“C’mon old girl,” I brightly chirped, “let’s tag your little one,”
“and just a shot and navel spray then out into the sun”.

Now looking back, it’s plain to see, I shouldn’t have said, “C’mon”.
Cause no sooner said than here she comes with after burners on!

The next two seconds were froze in time, the actions just a blur,
I flung the gate across the door and hoped the latch was sure.

She seemed to fly, that devil black, and in one single leap,
she crossed the pen and t’ward the gate, we hadn’t time to creep

behind the wall or round the corner to find a safer place
We watched her come at us full bore; she seemed to hang in space.

Would the hinges hold, did the latch drop in? We hadn’t time to think.
And then she crashed into the bars, so loud it made us blink.

Now you may not believe this, but some who watched will swear,
That a shower of sparks in graceful arcs went shooting through the air

from the crown of her head as she crashed the bars, and bellared loud and strong,
We left post haste and climbed the fence in case the latch went wrong.

From b’yond the yard we stood in awe as she pawed and glared in rage,
I’d never seen such livid wrath in a cow of any age.

We left her be for mor’n a week , we only threw her hay
While she slowly calmed and we watched our backs as we carefully walked away.

The calf grew big, protected well by momma’s full attention,
The times it got out of her sight don’t even warrant mention.

Ole’ “88’s” gone down the road but her actions we recall,
She holds the record on our farm as “the fiercest cow of all”.

I’ve had to wonder since that time, what drives a cow to show,
Such passion deep for her offspring, to any length she’d go

to battle any hint of harm that might befall her baby,
She’d do her very best to kill, and that’s not just a maybe.

I guess it’s just the way they’re made when they become a mother,
They’ll give their life to keep their young, through one way or another.

So thank you, Lord, for a mother’s heart, when it shows a love so strong
That there’s no fear when danger’s near, to protect its babe from wrong.

I'd hope that any human Mom, would share that powerful trait,
And protect their young at any cost, as well as "88".

J.S. 2005 Reply With Quote

  • Blaithin's Avatar Dec 27, 2020 | 14:44 7 When we first moved to Manitoba we had some ridiculous cows. I remember one that had a sick calf so was brought in to the barn (Everyone was calved out in the pasture in Jan-Feb. Fun times). She was let out of the barn so her calf could be treated. She went around the outside to the corner her calf was in, and right when mom was bent over the calf to give it a jab, her head came through the wall!

    There was also one that did about 2 laps around 40 acres at full bore, chasing the quad. It should be noted the quad didn't have her calf, but did pass it twice, once on each lap.

    I had another come after me after a particularly bad snow storm. We'd just collected calves and brought them to the barn, no clue who's was who's. After we were collecting the cows to bring in. She didn't want to come and decided I was the weak link. I was easily 200 feet away, definitely not close enough to be a big issue but she set her sites on me. I had nowhere to go, no safe place close enough to get to and 3 feet of snow I was trying to paddle through. Nobody in trucks or on quads were close enough to rescue. If she'd got me I would have just been part of the ground. Luckily between her and I was a melted lake that was a complete skating rink under it. She got out into that water and went down hard. I made the mistake of letting up my run for my life and she got back up and came again! Down she went for another swim and as she still had half the lake to cross she gave up and dripped her way back out the way she came. Reply With Quote
    Blaithin's Avatar Dec 27, 2020 | 14:49 8
    Quote Originally Posted by burnt View Post
    It may have seemed like a strange question, but it wasn't until our barn burned in December 2008 that I discovered that cows can actually winter outside if they have a windbreak.

    Since then they have mostly lived on the land. I have been known to open the door if there was a real blizzard going on for very long. But when they all packed in, it's not clear that they were much better off.

    One huge saving that I noticed was needing far less - almost zero - bedding. And followed by having about 1/10 of the manure to spread in the spring.

    And unrolling the hay across a select field would make them put the nutrients where needed most. Significant gains in herd health and economy achieved!

    Only have a small handful of cows now and it's not much of an issue anymore.
    We don't put bedding out very much, can make the straw stretch quite a bit. The other day my uncle was surprised when I said we use maybe 6 bales a year, and that includes feeding them straw. He couldn't believe we used so few. I said we were quite lavish with the straw since we don't have grapples to lift half a bale so they do tend to get more than they need.

    I've found that in my goal of trying to get more cover on my poor, baking, dirt, while bale grazing gets alright coverage, bedding packs do the best. Makes sense, that's a thick layer and they aren't eating that much of it. It can take a couple years for the thickest areas to grow through but I don't mind. They help keep the soil moist and the grass loves it in those spots. I'd eventually like to get a portable wind fence that I can just drag around so they can have a nice snooze spot and I can park bedding wherever I think the ground could use it the most. Right now I do avoid certain spots because I feel bad about the wind if I made their bed there. Unfortunately those are the areas that also tend to collect the least amounts of snow and dry out sooner in summer so could benefit the most from a good cover layer. Reply With Quote
    Dec 27, 2020 | 14:52 9 I had a reaction to both of those stories... :-0 (about silly mommas) Reply With Quote