How Valley ranchers keep their cows cool during scorching summers

Most Valley dairy operators have ways to keep their cows comfortable because the hotter the cows feel, the less milk they make.

Dale Yurong Image
Tuesday, September 6, 2022
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With Valley temperatures soaring this week, many ranchers and dairy operators are concerned over the health of their animals.

RIVERDALE, Calif. (KFSN) -- With Valley temperatures soaring this week, many ranchers and dairy operators are concerned over the health of their animals.

Cows, like many people, don't like to eat when it's too hot.

"Cows are really resilient to the cold. The heat is where they have their issues," says Riverdale farmer Donny Rollin.

Rollin has used a sprinkler system for decades. During extreme hot spells, it helps the cows keep eating because they're less bothered by the heat.

"The best way to keep cows cool is soaking them with some water and then turning the water off and then allowing the heat to evaporate off their backs," says Rollin.

Rollin's barn is designed in a way that offers shade throughout the day.

A cool breeze helps move hot air up through the opening of the tilted roof. But the soaking sessions are still needed.

A refreshing drink and regular showers keep these dairy cows comfortable, and cool cows will keep giving milk.

Rollin believes most Valley dairy operators have ways to keep their cows comfortable because the hotter they get, the less milk they make.

"Right now on the super hot days I do notice a depressed milk production level. We'll lose, I don't know, 5%.4%," he says.

Watching cows chew on their cud is a welcome sight.

"Anything we do to keep their appetites up allows them to be healthy and that's my primary goal - to keep cows healthy. I want to cool them as best I possibly can," says Rollin.

The cows seem to enjoy the short soakings.

"On a day like today and tomorrow, you could have cows just collapse in there from the heat exhaustion," says Rollin.

The sprinklers ensure the high heat won't be a problem on Rollin's dairy.

The cows at Rollin's dairy also have dry beds to lie down and eat.

Other dairies use big fans that cool off the cows after they're lightly doused with water.