During the day, you’ll likely see cows grazing in fields or bustling through a barn.
When the sun goes down, though, where do cows sleep?
Cows kept by farmers either sleep in their pastures or in a barn designed to accommodate them. Sleeping in a barn often offers additional protection from the elements and added comfort since it offers shelter from poor weather conditions, potential predators, and more.
Knowing about and catering to sleep patterns in dairy cows is a great way to keep your animals happy and healthy.
Keep reading, and we’ll go over everything you need to know about where adult cows and calves like to catch their beauty sleep after the sun goes down.
Where Do Cows Stay at Night?
Cows have a few options when it’s time to get some shut-eye. In fair weather, a herd can rest outside in the pasture when they need a nap or turn in for their beauty sleep overnight.
On the other hand, this comes with some real risks.
While a cow or calf might fall asleep in the pasture, it’s not always the safest place for them.
While some farmers are concerned about cow-tipping, which is mostly an urban legend, there are a few real threats to your animals’ safety.
After all, these are prey animals susceptible to predators.
In addition, being out in the open still leaves them exposed to the elements.
This is why many farmers bring their cows into a barn made to accommodate them to sleep.
This way, they can safely get their allotted hours of sleep in a safe, secure area.
In a barn, farmers know their cattle are protected for the night from predators and the elements while they turn in for the night themselves.
Further Reading: What causes a cow to moo at night?
Do Cows Go to Sleep at Night?
You might catch your cows lazing about or dozing off while they wander the pasture throughout the day and resting after the sun starts to go down.
Still, you’re likely to see your cows sleep together at night.
This is when they’re likely to catch up on their deep sleep rather than nap and doze off.
As noted, you’re likely to see your cows sleeping in groups too.
This behavior is common in herd animals who work together to protect one another against potential predators.
Even if your cows have led a relatively safe life, they’re likely to display the behavior instinctually.
Where Do Cows Sleep in the Winter?
Just like any other animal, cows get uncomfortable at certain temperatures.
When winter rolls around, they may not find the cold temperatures or unfavorable weather conditions comfortable to sleep in.
This is one case in which a barn can come in handy for cows!
To start, the shelter itself can help take away the bite of cold wind or keep cows dry when it starts to rain or snow.
Additionally, it’s easier to control the temperature in an enclosed space like a barn than to keep your cows warm enough out in the open.
It’s important to offer your cows enough space, though.
They’ll need space in the barn to lay down to sleep, walk around if they’re feeling restless, and have comfortable access to their basic needs like food and water.
Remember, more cows will need more space to ensure the barn doesn’t get too cramped for comfort.
How Often Do Cows Sleep?
On average, cows sleep about three to four hours a day.
However, this doesn’t mean you won’t catch your cow lazing about!
They spend about eight hours a day dozing as well.
Adult cows exhibit a behavior known as polyphasic sleep.
This means rather than getting all their sleep at once, they sleep in short spurts throughout 24 hours.
Expect a calf to rest throughout the day as well.
As they rest throughout the day, they’ll spend about a fourth of this resting time catching up on their sleep.
Sleep in dairy cows includes rapid eye movement or REM sleep and non-REM or NREM sleep.
On average, farmers can expect their cows to get 45 minutes of REM sleep and an additional three hours of NREM sleep as they catch up on their deep sleep.
Do Cows Sleep Standing Up?
There’s a rumor large farm animals tend to exhibit interesting behavior. You’ve probably heard about animals like horses and cows resting standing up.
There are even some myths about whether these animals can sleep lying down at all.
However, it’s not as true as it seems – cows don’t just sleep standing up and find lying down more comfortable for some of their sleep.
Farmers might catch their cattle dozing while standing, but this behavior isn’t present during REM sleep.
Just like humans, cows and calves prefer to curl up and rest their legs when catching up on their beauty sleep.
After all, this is a time for their body to rest, which is harder to do without laying down.
In addition, standing doesn’t just call for the cow to stay standing up doesn’t account for different head positions as the cow sleeps.
Once a cow enters REM sleep, the neck and head are usually at rest.
Visually, an indicator to tell if your cow has entered deep sleep is if it has its neck stretched out with its head on the ground or even propped up on another part of the animal’s body.
However, farmers can thank their cows’ legs for these moments when they doze standing up.
It’d probably prove quite the struggle if you tried to do the same thing.
The structure of your cows’ legs can allow them to stand without the same constant muscular effort humans experience.
This concept is commonly referred to as a “stay apparatus,” and it’s present in a few different large animals, including horses.
This offers the animal sleep and rest without having to reposition.
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