Keeping Cows Cool a Priority for Dairy Operators

July 8, 2008 8:55:42 PM PDT
This week's heat wave has valley farmers and ranchers taking safety precautions and not just for workers. Those in the dairy industry are just trying to keep their cows comfortable.The cows seem to enjoy the cool shower. Without misters and fans cows at the DeGroot Dairy in Easton wouldn't produce as much milk. Some wouldn't even make it through the heat wave. The system kicks on automatically.

Dairyman Charlie DeGroot said "Once it hits 75 degrees the soakers come on right above the cows. Soak the cows down for a minute and then they go off."

The idea is to make them as comfortable as possible. Dairy cows stressed by the heat don't want to eat so they won't give milk. Imagine wearing a thick leather coat when its 104 degrees outside. DeGroot said "The whole time there's fans behind them moving, keeping them cool. Pushing the hot air right up through the ridge cap of the barn and right out of the barn."

An opening at the top of the roof is unique to the Degroot Dairy. The third-generation dairymen say the design keeps the barn cooler. John DeGroot said "Every dairyman who's building a new dairy in Fresno County has stopped by."

It's even cooler inside the milking area, where the cows are milked at least twice a day.

John DeGroot said "Here in the milk barn there's fans blowing on the cows as well as the milkers. The whole facility's like a big wind tunnel. Constantly keeping the cow's temperature down so they'll continue to eat and produce."

Happy cows in this instance are cool cows. DeGroot added "When we start hitting 100-degrees we'll immediately see the milk production drop and the cows will be eating less."

We don't want to see a drastic drop in our local dairy production because of the heat wave. That would translate into higher prices for your milk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products.
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