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Where Do Cows Go When It Rains? (Do Cows Like Rain?)

When it’s miserable outside we have the luxury of staying indoors where it’s warm and dry, but spare a thought for the poor cattle who have to stand in the rain all day. Or do they?

Where Do Cows Go When It Rains

Cows usually seek shelter under trees or in barns when it rains heavily since prolonged wet weather can chill them and damage their hooves. On warm days, cows may choose to stay outdoors when it’s raining, because it cools them down and gets rid of biting flies and bugs that usually annoy cows.

In this article, we’ll look at what effects rain has on cows, why they choose to shelter from rain and where they go, and why some cows don’t hide from the rain at all.

Why Cows Need To Shelter

In heavy rain when the temperature is cold, cows have a natural instinct to seek shelter. 

Before we take a look at where cows go when it rains, it’s important to ask if they need shelter at all. Surely a little rain wouldn’t hurt them? 

Cows can deal with short bursts of rain without any issues, especially if the temperature is warm outside. In some cases though, cows do need to shelter from the rain, because their sensitive skin is more susceptible to the cold when they are wet, and their hooves soften if they are wet for too long.

Cows’ Coats are Not Fully Waterproof

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A cow’s coat is partially waterproof and sheds water, so they don’t have to worry too much about short bursts of rain. However, a cow’s skin is sensitive to the cold, so during sustained wet weather in colder months, they need to be protected from rain or they can suffer from hypothermia.

Cows are most vulnerable to the cold during winter. Sometimes, if they don’t have a barn or other shelter from the rain, farmers may provide their cows with cattle jackets that cover their bodies and help them regulate their temperature. These jackets need to be replaced often, as they can become dirty and wet very quickly.

Wet Conditions can Damage Cows’ Hooves

Rain can cause problems with cows’ hooves, which become soft and are more fragile when they have been in wet conditions for too long. Cow hooves which have become soft due to moisture are more likely to become damaged, which can lead to infection, delamination, and lameness. 

A cow’s hooves and horns are made from roughly the same material as human fingernails. Just like your nails become soft if you stay in the bath too long, cows’ hooves become soft if they spend too long out in the wet.

Do Cows Like the Rain?

cow

If all this talk of hypothermia and weakened hooves is getting you down, don’t worry! Rain isn’t all bad. I’m sure I’ve seen plenty of cows standing in the fields in the rain without a care in the world.

Although prolonged wet conditions aren’t good for cows (especially in the winter months), cows can enjoy brief downpours during the summer, when the rain has lots of positive effects for cows.

As long as it’s not too cold, cows enjoy the rain on a hot day because it helps them cool down, and it gets rid of annoying biting bugs for a while. 

Read Also: Do Cows Know When They are Going To Be Slaughtered?

Where Do Cows Go When It Rains?

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Many cows stay outside when it rains. Depending on the climate, they may be grateful for the cooling effect the rain has on them, and the lack of flies.

In colder climates where cows do need to shelter from the rain, they have a few different options:

1: Under Trees

Sheltering under trees comes naturally to cattle since their wild ancestors (the Aurochs) used to live in the forests of Europe and Asia, where there were no barns.

Trees are a great and inexpensive way for a farmer to provide enrichment for their cows since cows use the trunks to scratch, and use the canopy for shelter from the rain and sun.

Read More: 9 Treats Farmers can Give Their Cows

2: Huddle Together

When it’s raining and windy, you’ll often see cows huddling together in a group to shield themselves from the worst of the weather.

Although this doesn’t stop them from getting wet completely, it stops the wind from whipping the rain against them.

Read More: Why do cows huddle together?

3: In Their Barn

Finally, most farms have barns available for their cattle.

Barns are warm and dry, and usually packed with plenty of straw, wood shavings, or cow mattresses that help keep them comfortable for the cows.

Barns usually have feeding and water troughs too, so the cows don’t mind going inside at all when it’s wet.

Does Cows Lying Mean It’s Going To Rain?

Cow Tipping

You may have heard the old wive’s tale that cows lying down indicates that rain is coming. While there is no peer-reviewed study confirming this, there may actually be some truth to it.

Cows have been known to lie down before a storm as an instinctual behavior. This is mainly because cows are sensitive to changes in barometric pressure, which drops before a storm.

One theory as to why they might do this include that it protects the cow-sized patch of grass under them from getting soaked, leaving them with some fresh dry grass to chew on even once it starts raining.

The other option though is that they are just lying down for a nap!

Related Article: Do Cows Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Conclusion

To sum up, cows instinctively take shelter under trees or in their barn if it’s raining heavily, especially when it’s cold.

In the summer months, cows may decide to stay outside during rain showers, because they like the cooling effect and the lack of bugs while it’s raining.

If cows can’t find shelter, they may huddle together and lie down just before it rains. Many people believe cows can sense when a storm is coming since they seem to lie down before it rains, although there is no scientific evidence for this.

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