Whenever it starts to rain, you see people running to take shelter. What about cows, ever wondered whether they like rain and can handle cold weather? You might have sees them grazing, unbothered by the sudden downpour. Here’s the truth about cows and rain.
Do cows like rain? Cows do like rain as it can be refreshing. Cows are ok in the rain if it’s not a heavy storm. Cows aren’t as quick to take cover as we are when it starts raining, and might even sit down before the rain starts.
You might even be tempted to think that cows don’t feel the rain. The next time you see cows standing in the rain, know they’re probably enjoying it… in most cases.
I’ll share more on why cows always seem so comfortable in the pouring rain. At what point will a cow opt to get away and go warm up at their shelter of choice?
Cows love the feel of rain droplets on their bodies ﹘ only if it’s not raining too hard. When there are light showers and the temperatures aren’t so cold, you’ll notice cows going about their usual business despite the rain. They’ll be those grazing and others standing idle in the rain, as you can see in the video shown below.
Won’t cows get cold and sick in the rain?
Don’t panic about your cows falling sick. They have a hairy coat to keep them warm.
Rain only becomes a bother to cows if it’s too heavy and lasts for hours.
Here’s why cows like rain:
1. Rain cools their bodies
Cows produce lots of body heat during digestion and milk production. Their heat troubles double during hot weather. Too much heat raises a cow’s body temperature, and the cow becomes uncomfortable.
Rain saves the day when cows are heat-stressed.
When it rains, the air is much cooler. And that means no more unbearable body heat for the cows.
2. Rain rinses them off
Cows get dirty. Really dirty sometimes. They spend most of their time lying down on dusty and muddy grounds. I can’t recall the last time I saw a cow’s tail not coated in manure.
Let’s not forget the dirt they get from scratching their bodies on walls to soothe an itch on their bodies.
These are perfectly natural behavior. And what better way for cows to feel fresh and clean from head to hoof than spending some time in the pouring rain!
3. Rain chases away biting flies
Cows hate the tickle of flies crawling on their bodies and buzzing around their heads.
To cows, rain is more like an answered prayer. Why? Rain washes away the annoying biting flies landing on their bodies.
If you’ve ever watched cows in the rain, you’ll realize that they’re happy to spot a shelter when light rainfall turns into a heavy downpour.
You can tell from this video that cows don’t like being outside when there’s heavy rain.
When it’s raining hard, a cow’s hair coat gets “thinner” and lets cold in. As a result, their body temperature will fall below the normal range (38℃). And when this happens, a cow suffers from hypothermia.
This condition makes cows sick. A cow can even die if it doesn’t warm up as soon as possible.
A cow shivers when cold and wet. Shivering is a sign that a cow is uncomfortable being in the rain. That’s why cows huddle together when it’s extremely cold ﹘ to generate heat together.
Cows aren’t safe when strong winds and lightning accompany heavy rain. They can be hit by flying objects or get struck by lightning.
Let’s look at some of the ways heavy rain can harm cows:
1. Cows will experience rain rot.
Rain rot is a skin disease that affects cows with wet hair coats. Its other name is rain scald. Rain rot causes ugly, “naked” patches of wounds on a cow’s body.
When rain rot occurs, hair peels off from certain spots on a cow’s coat, leaving open wounds. Rain rot mostly appears on a cow’s belly, neck, back, and around the head. It worsens when a cow doesn’t dry off quickly.
The good news is, rain rot is curable.
Of course, these open wounds are painful. But when a cow fully dries, it will take around 7 to 10 days for the wounds to heal and hair to grow back.
2. Heavy rain will cause hoof infections.
See how the skin between your toes starts peeling off if your toes are always wet?
Too much water also damages a cow’s hooves. When cows stand in the rain for a long period, their hooves get extremely wet. Hoof cracks develop. Disease-causing fungi enter these cracks and attack sensitive hoof tissues.
The outcome? A cow that can’t walk properly. Cows with hoof infections feel a lot of pain when walking.
3. Heavy rain will cause mud fever.
Mud fever is a condition like rain rot. The only difference is that mud fever affects a cow’s legs.
It occurs when a cow stands on wet and muddy grounds for long. Wet mud softens a cow’s legs. Bacteria gets through the legs’ skin, causing mud fever infection.
A cow’s legs can swell because of mud fever.
4. Heavy rain exposes cows to respiratory complications.
A cow soaked with water can get respiratory problems like pneumonia.
Heavy rain causes cold stress in cows and weakens their immune systems. With a fragile immune system, a cow can’t defend itself against the viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory illness ﹘ and that’s how respiratory infections set in.
When rain becomes intense, cows feel the need to hide to avoid getting too wet and cold. So they look for the nearest shelter, where they stay until the rain stops.
While there’s nothing you can do to stop heavy rain, there’s something you can do to protect your cows from the impact of heavy rain ﹘ build them a run-in shelter in the field.
Natural shelters like trees and under buildings are okay (and better than none). But the best option is to build a spacious three-sided shelter structure for your cows. At least they’ll know they have a safe place to go to when rain becomes too much.
You can spread straw on the floor to absorb raindrops entering the shelter structure. By doing so, you’ll protect the cows’ legs and hooves from getting wet.
As a caring cow owner, you can go the extra mile to keep your cows “entertained” while in their shelter place. I’m not talking about music. Give them plenty of hay to munch on as they wait for the weather to get better.
Cows can happily stay outside in the rain. But this depends on the intensity of the rain and how long it will last.
There’s no cause for alarm when there’s light rainfall. But if it’s raining heavily, the cold and wet weather will affect the cows. So, cows are only okay when there’s light rainfall.
Cows sit down when they notice a change in weather ﹘ particularly when rain is approaching.
They do this to keep their bellies warm by sitting on a patch of dry grass before the rain starts pouring.
Cows also copy what the herd leader does. For example, if the herd leader sits down when it starts raining, other cows will do the same.
Cows are sensitive to cold weather. When it’s really cold, a cow’s body temperature goes down ( below normal). When this happens, a cow becomes cold-stressed ﹘ and this is dangerous to their health.
Cows prefer cool weather ﹘ when it’s neither too cold nor too hot.
You might also like…
- Why cows love to stare at people
- What wild and grass fed cows eat in cold winters
- Why cows love the taste of salt
Photo of a cow in the rain used in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/raining-girl-father-cattle-cows-101670/