what do cows do when a storm is coming

What do cows do when a storm is coming? Many people believe that animals can sense bad weather events, and cows also fall into that category.

It is commonly thought that farm animals have the ability to predict storms.

Cows, according to an old farming tale, like to lay low before a storm. Well, is it true?

Can cows sense a storm? Do cows lay down when a storm is coming?  Is there any scientific explanation to back those claims?

Many experts think that cows can sense a storm and become agitated and restless, but no scientific evidence suggests they lay down when a storm is coming.  

Impact of Storms and Bad Weather on Cows

storm impact and bad weather on cows

When a storm is approaching or the weather is bad, it can have an impact on animals, and cows are not an exception.

Here is a bit about how bad weather can cause behavioral changes in cows:

They May Feel Stressed

Cows can experience stress from storms, which can alter their behavior, reduce milk output, and make them more susceptible to sickness.

They May Develop Hypothermia

they may develop hypothermia

Cows can suffer from hypothermia if they spend too much time in the rain and cold without proper cover.

They May Sustain Injuries

Storms increase the risk of injury due to falling trees, flying debris, and accidents brought on by reduced visibility and slick surfaces.

They May Develop Health Issues

they may develop health issues

Footrot and mastitis are two examples of diseases that can flourish in the damp circumstances that often accompany storms.

Fact: Storms can disrupt normal grazing patterns, making it difficult for cows to get the nutrition they require, which can lead to weight loss and other issues.

Do Cows Lay Down When a Storm is Coming?

As mentioned already, bad weather can affect cows in various ways, but does that mean they can sense the impending danger?

Many people think that cows will lie down in anticipation of a storm. However, there is scant empirical research to back up this assumption.

It is not a reliable sign of impending storms if cows lie down.

It is mainly because cows can do it for any purpose like to rest, chew their cud, or avoid standing in puddles.

cows' lying down and storms

Still, it is true that cows can sense a change in climate, such as:

When they sense that change, they become agitated and act differently. Some may even begin to seek shelter before a storm.

But every time they behave differently does not mean a storm is coming. 

What Do Cows Do When a Storm Is Coming?

behavior of cows during storm

A change in atmospheric pressure and climate as a whole can cause cows to behave differently.

Here is a bit about how cows may do when a storm is coming:


Cows’ restlessness is a harbinger of their sensitivity to external changes like an impending storm.

They have the intrinsic ability to detect changes in environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure, which likely accounts for their increased activity.

Cows may become more active and restless when they show signs of anxiety or stress in response to these changes.

Herd members may pace, alter course frequently, or get agitated as a result of this restlessness.

This change of activity in the hours before a storm may serve as advance notice for farmers to secure their livestock and take other precautions against the impending weather.

Seeking Shelter

seeking shelter

In the face of a looming storm, cows will instinctively seek cover. They seek shelter from dangerous weather conditions like high winds and rain.

It is also common for them to seek shelter in groups under trees or inside buildings like barns.

Herding together is another typical practice since it protects the cows from the elements and makes them feel safe and secure in a group.

By taking these precautions, individuals will be better equipped to weather the storm and will experience less stress and injury as a result of it.  

Grazing Changes

grazing changes

An approaching storm may cause the cows to alter their grazing behavior.

They do it as they become aware of the impending weather event and prepare for the difficulties it may bring.

To ensure they have enough energy reserves to weather the storm, they may increase the rate at which they graze.

They could also stop grazing altogether if they decide to concentrate on finding safety or adapting to the new conditions.

Fact: The cows' ability to adapt to new circumstances and respond instinctively to changing weather conditions allows them to weather storms and retain their health and well-being.



Cows can also use vocalization to convey their emotions and reactions to changes in their surroundings, such as an impending storm.

If the impending weather event causes the cows stress or anxiety, they may make more noise to convey their distress or warn the rest of the herd.

Some cows may get louder or more insistent in their calls, and the frequency of this also varies.

It is in an effort to make the herd stay together and react quickly in the face of danger.

The farmer may interpret this as an indication that their livestock is under stress and needs assistance.

Fact: Being aware of any alterations in vocal behavior might be vital in determining the cows' requirements and making sure they are safe during the storm.

How Do Cows Adapt to Storms?

how do cows adapt to storms

You may have learned how cows behave as they sense a storm, but it is important to know that they have also evolved to manage severe weather occurrences.

Hair and Skin

A cow’s hair and skin serve as crucial layers of protection during a storm.

The dense hair on a cow’s body serves as a natural insulator, keeping the animal warm and protecting it from the elements (such as wind and rain).

This thick coat helps cows stay warm and dry in cold climates.

The skin on a cow’s body is just as important to its ability to withstand the elements as the hair on its head.

Oils secreted by the skin’s sebaceous glands protect the hair from the elements by creating a waterproof barrier.

This inherent water resistance does double duty, keeping cows dry while also keeping them warm and cozy in the wet.

Ruminant Digestive System

Cows’ specialized ruminant digestive tract is a major adaptation that allows them to digest tough plant matter.

Food is kept in a multi-chambered stomach, where it ferments before being regurgitated as cud and re-chewed.

ruminant digestive system

By using this method, cows are able to digest their meal and absorb the maximum amount of nutrients possible.

The importance of this digestive system increases when the weather is bad.

Cows need to be able to store food and regurgitate it as cud in case of disturbances to their typical grazing routines.

This helps them keep up their energy and health.

The ruminant digestive system, which allows cows to tolerate and cope with the effects of adverse weather on their feeding patterns and well-being, is a critical adaptation.

Herding Behavior

Because of their gregarious nature, cows have an innate need to congregate in herds for safety.

Being in a herd has many advantages, including protection from predators and help from others in times of trouble, such as during a storm.

herding behavior

Herding is a very useful behavior in dangerous weather. When cows feel threatened, they sometimes cluster together.

In this way, cows can protect themselves from the negative effects of the weather.

As seen by their herding behavior, the cows’ ability to cooperate and adapt to their environment is crucial to their survival. 

Farmers and caretakers may better safeguard the health, safety, and production of their herds amid bad weather if they have a firm grasp on these innate inclinations.

Fact: Because of their proximity to one another, cows can generate enough heat to keep each other comfortable, and they can block the wind and the rain with their bodies.


What do cows do when a storm is coming? Just like many other animals, cows can sense a change in climate and atmospheric pressure. This sensation makes them feel agitated and stressed.

That is why you may notice them huddle together, seek shelter, or even lie down to conserve energy.

Not all of them behave the same way, which is why there is no scientific evidence suggesting that cows can indeed sense a storm.