snow grazing - cows eating snow?

Cows eating snow?

We received our first measurable snow fall for 2013 this past week.  At our farm near Lincoln Nebraska, we usually have “open” winters, which means our pastures are not covered with snow for long periods of time.  When snow does arrive, we expect our cows to dig through the snow to find their meal.  Remember our cows graze 365 days a year.  To have grass for grazing this time of year, we set aside pastures during the growing season that are not grazed.  The grass left un-grazed during the growing season is “stockpiled” for grazing this time of the year (dormant season).

Snow Grazing

Calves learning to graze through snow by watching the momma cows.

Snow covered stockpiled green forage.

Snow covered stockpiled green forage.

As you can see from the photos, our cows are grazing down through about four inches of snow to find some excellent forage.  Cattle will easily graze through snow up to their eyes.  Further North, cattle herds graze through deep snow for longer periods of snow cover than our cows have ever experienced.  Our farm is located in what past UN-L Extension Educator Terry Gompert called the “Grass Finishing Sweet Spot”, so our cows have it easier than some other grass-fed herds this time of year.  None the less, our cows are well adapted to our farm forages and climate and the cow herd is improving with each generation.

It appears the cows are grazing snow, actually they are after the stockpiled forage and getting a drink of very cold water at the same time.  We are happy to give our cow herd the chance to be as cow-like as they want any time during the year and invite you out to see cows teaching calves to graze.

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