Are you thinking about getting a cow? Before you do, there are a few considerations you need to make. These large and gentle animals need a considerable amount of space, have special dietary needs, and have certain health needs you’ll have to pay attention to. Plus, they can live for up to twenty-five years. Here’s what you need to know before choosing to care for cows.
Housing for Cows
On average, a cow can weigh anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds. If you plan on keeping your cow inside of a barn or other pen enclosure, you’ll need a minimum of thirty-five to fifty square feet of space, plus a turnout area in a pasture or lot. In addition, your cow needs shelter and a dry space to lay down in bad weather. Ventilation is also important to allow the animal to keep cool during warmer months.
It is worth noting that cows have four stomach chambers. This means that they are constantly eating and rely on either pasture grass or hay to get the vast majority of their nutrition. To put this in perspective, adult cows typically need up to four percent of their body weight in hay or grass per day. Severe winter weather where the animal is using up more energy to keep warm can double this figure. Cows also have specific mineral requirements. You’ll need to keep a salt lick or block in their enclosure to ensure they’re getting the right level of sodium each day.
Basic Health Needs for Cows
In general, cows are pretty hearty creatures with minimal health requirements. They do need basic veterinary care and vaccinations to prevent illness from spreadable disease. Just like horses, cattle also need their hooves trimmed on a regular basis. And common conditions like bloat, parasites, and respiratory problems can develop under certain circumstances. Female cows producing milk also have other needs associated with general reproductive health.
Are Cows Good for Beginners?
While taking care of livestock can be incredibly rewarding for families, the sheer size and feeding needs of cows are not necessarily ideal for beginners. Those that have zero experience with horses, goats, or other similar animals should consider all factors carefully before getting a cow. However, with proper care and attention, a cow can be very loving and fun to own.