Why is this cow standing in the drinker?

Why is this cow standing in the drinker?

Very interesting cow signals we received from our CowSignals Community. This cow is standing in the drinker in the middle of the barn. What could be going on here? What is she telling us?

Our first thought was that it was laminitis and that she was cooling her hoofs. However, in this case that wasn't it, they let us know that the hoofs look great. However, it is +40 degrees in the shade. So beware of heat stress!
There's also another signals here: a cow standing alone. A cow is a herd animal, so always give her some company.

Can you think of any other reason this cow could be standing in the drinker? Please share your thoughs below!

Why is this cow standing in the drinker.jpg


Though it turned out not to be laminitis in this case, our cows’ hooves are the weakest link in their health and welfare. Cows that become lame - even slightly - will eat, drink and lie down less. They will therefore produce less milk and it will be more difficult to get them in calf. Plus they will need additional attention and work on an ongoing basis. Learn how to focus on prevention, so your time won't be consumed by the treatment of lame cows anymore.

Hoof Signals video learning

UPDATE: Extra pictures by Jan Hulsen

Read also Jan's comment below!

Cows in water picture Jan Hulsen.jpg
Cows in water picture Jan Hulsen 3.jpg
Cows in water picture Jan Hulsen 2.jpg

Comments (15)

Philip Rember

She may not be lame but perhaps she is not a fan of the pen material and the trough floor is easier to stand on. If the pen was bedded up so it was cleaner she'd probably go lie down in 5 seconds. Just a thought.


I see this a lot. Cows don't necessarily have a foot problem, but due to the high blood flow through the hoof I believe they are trying to cool down. Just like dipping our feet in a pool on a hot day! :)

Annelise Hever

With +40° she is for sure in heat stress. In the best case she is just a smart cow and found a way to cool herself. I hope that there is a cooling system working on this farm? If so and she is still cooling her hoofs in the trough she has probably a fever or a claw problem. Only because "they let you know" that the hoofs look great that does not mean that this is true for all the cows.

Vivien Dillon

Cow is clean, so there must be somewhere clean to lie! Looks like something metabolic ( licking, standing apart, check for blindness?) Looking vacant- good old ketosis?) Check for abdominal or other core pain, too ( as in "dog sitting" )

Carsten Houmann

Heatstress - ketoses caused by a peace af metal in the rumen.
The peace og metal gives a press against the heart - that the reason that she want to stay high with her frontlegs. That gives less press on the heart. If not too late - give her a magnet in the rumen


It is summer time.Many of my cows do the same( this summer 35-42 C iz shade in Croatia).

Khuram Ihsan

The cow seems to have high temperature (fever). she might be sick.

Joep Driessen

Thanks for the comments everyone, much appreciated!

Jan Hulsen

I love picture puzzles!!

Standing with the feet in water is a natural behavior during hot weather. In confined housing, cows probably only put their front feet in a water trough because there is not enough space to stand in it with all four feet…

Remember: cows follow their head and place their front feet carefully. Then they automatically place their hind feed on the same place as where their front feet where standing. They cannot see well where they place their hind feet…

An interesting question is why the cows put their feed into water? A very likely explanation is that the surface of the water is more cold than other surfaces and thus reduces the heat load on their body. During periods of heat stress you can also often see cows hanging their noses and heads over the water throughs, for the same reason.

But cows walking on dry surfaces during hot en dry periods, are prone to develop ‘sand cracks’ in their hooves. The hoof wall gets very dry, looses elasticity and cracks when the animal puts a lot of pressure on it. This is mostly seen in steers and bulls in dry lots. Perhaps making the hooves wet prevents the dry hoof horn from cracking?

See also extra pictures in blog!

Best regards,

Jan Hulsen.

Antonio Gomes

The drinking trough stands so low above the funny bedding that maybe the cow thought it was a footbath. I wonder how clean the water was, even before the cow put her feet inside.

Dima Kolodii

As for me the cow is looking a place for cooling.


I see this every day in cows that are housed in barns that are cooled to 26 degrees, the cows aren't lame, they aren't sick or feverish, quite often you will find them cudding while doing it. As far as I'm aware it's a habit picked up as heifers when they are in a less temperature controlled environment and they realise it's quite pleasing. Re the bedding, if it's what I think it is the photo doesn't truly represent the bedding, it's incredibly comfortable for cows once it's groomed properly, in our case four times a day.


As i knew well, that cow is looking to keep it self cool after got enough feed or long distance taken inside the barn .

adel ramoun

I believe that that the ground seems to be muddy and this may make the cow feel not comfortable

Beryll Hansen

Hi Joep,
of what no one thinks, sometimes there are no organic reasons, she is standing 20 cm higher and from this position she can see more... or maybe, some cows are doing this only because they can, I see it in my own barn, that some like to step in water without any reason and without having problems. The cow is too far on the picture to see exactly the expression on her face.
And with 40 degrees it could be that she is just intelligent enough, imagine us , standing in a water pot in that heat...:-) sometimes, cows are only human!

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