You're driving to work with your heater blasting full bore when you notice a cow standing in a frosty field chewing her cud, calm as a summer morning.

Doesn't the wintry weather affect her? That was a question posed by a Utah State University researcher in a study of dairy cows to determine whether keeping them indoors vs. outdoors during cold weather makes a difference in milk production.Preliminary indications are that it does not, said Clive W. Arave, associate professor with the Animal, Dairy & Veterinary Sciences Department.

Speaking recently at a USU dairy seminar at the Caine Dairy Teaching and Research Center in Wellsville, Arave said despite temperatures that averaged 10 degrees lower for cows kept outside during the first 42 days of a study made last winter, their milk yield and feed intake nearly matched the numbers of the cows that were housed.

"The results indicate no advantage is obtained in either increased milk yield or decreased feed intake attributable to totally enclosed housing during cold weather," he said.

As to what factors last year's unusually mild weather played in the study, he said he's not certain.

The trial will be repeated again this winter.