Valley dairy farmers trying to keep cows cool

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They say they're trying to keep the animals cool, but with more heat comes less milk and higher risk of health problems to their animals. (KFSN)

North Valley dairy farmers are feeling the burn of the triple digit heat.

If you take a look, you can see some cows trying to stay out of the heat and stay in the shade.

Farmers we spoke with say the high summer heat is a challenge every year. They say they're trying to keep the animals cool, but with more heat comes less milk and higher risk of health problems to their animals.

Dairy farmer Simon Vander Woude says it doesn't come as a surprise.

"We live in the Central Valley, we know it's coming every year," Vander Woude said. "We're set up and ready for it. We expect these heat waves."

The triple digit heat can be felt across the valley and Vander Woude says he can see its burning effect on his business.

"We see a drop in milk production, we'll see that across the entire valley," Vander Woude said. "We'll see it in our co-op. Times like this anywhere from 5 to 10 percent in milk reduction.

Mist sprays, fans, and shade is how Vander Woude keeps his 3,200 cows cool.

He says more heat means less milk - similar to people, cows can also have heat strokes.

"They can get heat stroke just like a human would and it can with the extreme heat," Vander Woude said. "If they don't have shade and some cooling it can kill them."

Dr. Michael Wesselink says he treats dairy cattle every day.

"In any place that has heat," he said. "That's something that is occurring at all of them."

He says along with shade and soakers, farmers should make sure to keep water and food close to the animals.

"It's in the dairy men's best interest to keep that from happening," Wesselink said. "It's their livelihood."

Vander Woude says he's only had close to a 5 percent loss in production, he plans to keep the fans going and the water spraying.

"Take care of the cows and they take care of us," Vander Woude said.

He's trying to keep the cattle as cool as much as he can. Right now, the dairy farm has not had any cow deaths this year however, they do expect less milk production as this heat continues.
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