Why Do Cows Lay Down?

February 14, 2024

Cows often lie down for several hours at a time. This behavior helps cows rest and may help with digestion, but it's no secret that many of us have heard the old wives tale that a field full of cows lying down means rain is coming. But does it really?

It is true that cattle often do seem to lie down just before a storm. This could be due to changes in atmospheric pressure, humidity, or temperature that occur with a change in weather. But correlation does not imply causation, and it is important to remember that cows lie down for a variety of reasons, including rest, rumination (chewing their cud), and social interaction. Attributing this behavior solely to an impending change in weather is an oversimplification.

A cow that can't get up when laying down is in trouble, and it should be consulted by a veterinarian. She can have a number of things wrong with her, from a pinched nerve during calving to metabolic imbalances, calcium or magnesium deficiency, or even an illness.

A field of cows huddled together in the same position, though, should never be ignored, and farmers should always be vigilant to check for signs that something is wrong with the animal. Whether it's a swollen hock, pregnancy, bloat, lacerations, or exhaustion, a cow in pain will not be able to lie down as long as she wants and will need veterinary attention to regain mobility.

Mission

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