Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Wet cows

Wet cattle - some will be inside in December

Wet cattle – some will be inside in December

Rain. It’s feeling very British now; cold but not freezing, gloomy, very wet underfoot. Short days getting shorter. The cattle seem pretty weather resistant but I always feel for them as conditions deteriorate at this time of year. Someone once told me that cattle can cope with very cold conditions as long as they are fed well enough. Their first stomach or rumen is a fermentation vessel that generates heat and keeps them warm. They probably suffer more from heat in the summer than cold in  winter and in fact we know cattle people who swear that in winter their animals are healthier outside than in. We used to outwinter our herd; not through choice, rather because we didn’t have a building to put them in. As our herd expanded, it became very clear that although the cattle managed outside well enough, the soil didn’t.

So now we bring them into a new shed. And of course I worry about them in there too. Even though they live under cover, the shed has only three walls so it’s not exactly warm. This winter we plan to keep some of the herd outside for longer than we have done for the last few years, as long as it’s not too wet. They will all be inside in the end though – probably by Christmas.

It can be difficult to be positive about the weather at this time of year, but news from South East Asia this morning, about a monster storm with winds of 200mph, should make us feel very lucky. Hopefully the apparent good forecasting has helped keep people safe.

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