Can Cows Eat Snow?

Thanks to Jim Keyes for sharing this article with us! When winter hits and temperatures drop below freezing, it becomes harder to keep a fresh water supply for cattle grazing on range. It can be difficult to access areas to cut ice and open reservoirs or to haul tanks of water. Many wonder if cows can eat snow in the winter to supply all their water needs. The answer is yes. There are many situations where cattle can survive on snow without having any other water supply. Many ranches throughout the West and Midwest with cattle on large pastures and few or no water resources depend entirely on snow for winter grazing. Just turning cattle loose on the snow sounds like a very simple management technique, but it requires that ranchers pay very close attention to the animal’s body condition and general health. Several studies have shown there is no reason to expect cattle performance to deteriorate when animals use snow for water. Researchers found cows using snow for water did not differ in live weight amount of body fat compared to cows receiving water. Another study evaluated the effects of snow as a water source on milk yield and calf growth. A group of pregnant beef cows were provided only snow as a water source. A similar group of cattle were given access to heated water.  Cows eating snow consumed between 30 and 40 pounds of snow per day to meet their water needs. Cows with access to water drank 2 to 3 gallons, but also ate 7 to 25 pounds of snow. In the e

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2 thoughts on “Can Cows Eat Snow?

  1. When an adequate amount of snow is available it provides a reasonable option for hydration. That being said, it takes energy for an animal to melt snow for water and we often can’t rely on a steady supply of fresh snow to provide enough water for a reasonably sized heard.

    This is where we come in. The Frostfree Nosepunp requires no power and provides a reliable source of quality water no matter if it is 40 above or 50 below zero!

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