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How Cows Adapt to Changing Seasons

When the seasons change, we have ways to adapt to those differences in temperature and weather (for example, turning on the heat in your house). Cows grow thicker coats of fur in the winter as well as seek wind breaks. Their thicker fur keeps them very comfortable in temperatures down to about 20 degrees. 

Woodward, Iowa

Driving Question

  • How do cows adapt to changing seasons?

Probing Questions

  • Why do you think cows stand closer together when it is colder out?
  • Why do you think cows drink more water when it's hot out?
  • How do you think your location affects the seasons?

Classroom Suggestions

Students could:

  • Show students the two pictures of cows and have them write as many questions as they can in 1 minute about the pictures. After students have written their questions, have them share with a partner and try to come up with answers/solutions to their questions. Next create a class venn diagram comparing how cows adapt in hot and cold weather by what students gathered from the pictures
  • Have students mimic what cows do to adapt to changing seasons, but in their own lives. (We recommend you do this activity during a hot day so you can experiment with the hot weather or you could do it in the winter and experiment with the cold weather - whatever one you do, have the students brainstorm what they would do for the other). Then, students will begin using their critical thinking skills to design solutions to adapting to hot weather (going outside) or cold weather (going inside). Students will be going through a lot of trial and error, when coming up with solutions on how to cool off or warm up. (Ex: in the winter, have students go out individually with a coat on, then have them huddle up together, trying to see the difference it makes). Then, after you go through these experiments, we recommend you have a class discussion about what they found out and learned throughout the experiments. 
  • Have students (in small groups) do research on different states/countries and how their weather/seasons are different from where they live. (Teachers will need to find resources for students to explore, and give them additional support). Then, have them create a simple poster or presentation to share with the class. 

Relevant Related Resources

  • Sacred Cow: This article gives examples and details on how cows adapt to colder temperatures.
  • Agriculture Victoria: This source provides examples and information on how cows stay cool in extreme heat.
  • Temple Belton Feed: This article explains how cows maintain homeostasis in colder temperatures. 

Iowa Core Alignment


Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all

Credit Info

Phenomena Submitted by Chloe Nixon and Cassidy Staudt

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