Dairy farmers brace for scorching temperatures

June 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dairy farmers in the South Valley are bracing for this weekend's scorching temperatures.

Milk-producing cows in Tulare County love cool weather, so when temperatures hit the triple digits dairy farmers do everything they can to turn the heat down.

"First thing when I hear it's going to be this hot is we make sure all our misters are working. They're there for cow cooling and comfort. We work very hard on maintain the equipment all the way together but we really want to make sure they have the availability to be underneath the misters, under the shade," Pete Tiemersma from the Tiemersma Dairy said.

Tiemersma said once temperatures reach past 90 degrees, cows can feel worn down and milk production suffers.

Normally the 700 milking cows on this farm each produce 7-and-a-half gallons of milk a day.

"I could lose up to a half gallon if this is prolonged and if it gets very humid you could look at a gallon or plus," Tiemersma said.

When temperatures get into the triple digits dairy farmers will be pay extra attention to cows that are within just a couple weeks of giving birth.

"They'll tire out quicker and you might have to give a little assistance," Tiemersma said.

One plus about this forecast is temperatures will cool down significantly at night, giving the cows time to recuperate from the scorching weather. The nighttime cool down also encourages the cows to eat more.

Dairy farmers expect milk production to get back to normal levels once this heat wave ends. Which looks like it will end as early as next week.