DCSIMG

Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo

Search

Shop

Caring for Cows

Depending on what time of year it is dictates the daily routine for the cows at Kids' Farm.

In the Morning

During the summer, the cows stay outside over night because it is too hot in the barn for them. They come inside for a quick breakfast of hay and to let the keeper take a good look at them to make sure they look healthy. While the cows are inside, the keeper prepares the yard with fresh hay and water. The cows also have grass to graze on in their yard. When they are outside, the keeper cleans the stalls and replaces the bedding as needed, puts fresh hay in the hay racks, and rinses and refills the water buckets.

During the winter, the cows spend the night inside to protect them from the cold weather. Since they are already inside, the keeper prepares the yard with fresh hay and water.  The cow stalls lead directly into their yard, so the keeper puts halters on the cows and opens the door, and the cows head down to the shed for breakfast. When the cows are outside, the keeper cleans the stalls and replaces the bedding as needed, puts fresh hay in the hay racks, and rinses and refills the water buckets.

At the End of the Day

In the summer at about 4 p.m., the cows come inside for a quick dinner and to let the keeper have a final look at them before leaving for the night. The keeper cleans the yard and puts more fresh hay in their shed while the cows eat inside.  When they are finished, the keeper removes their halters and lets them back outside.

In the winter, the keeper cleans the yard at about 3 p.m. and then lets the cows inside after 3:30 p.m. Waiting for them inside is a big dinner of grain, hay, and fresh water.
The cows know when it is time to eat and on most days will be waiting outside their stalls to come in for the night.

General Care

Cows’ hooves grow continuously and need to be trimmed once or twice a year.  The hairy end of the tail, the switch, is good for swatting flies. But the long hairs can trap dirt and manure. The switch needs to be kept clean and trimmed.