Keeping dairy cows cool in the summertime is important. In addition to the health of the cow, the rising temperatures can affect a dairy cow’s production. And the Southeast is known for its humid, hot summer months, making heat management crucial.
Like humans, the summer heat can cause a loss in appetite. Our bodies attempt to regulate body temperature by reducing bodily functions that build up heat, like digesting food. Keeping cool in the high temperatures seems to take up all our energy, but then we don’t have the desire to eat and replenish. While this may lead to humans spending an evening on the couch recovering before dinner, if dairy cows don’t want to eat, it leads to a drop in milk production. A noticeable, consistent drop in milk production over the summer months is something that can’t happen when we all dream of cool ice cream.
To lessen the loss in production over the summer months, farmers must keep their cows cool and comfortable. Long, insulated barns provide room for cows to move around while providing shelter from the blazing sun. It’s also important to provide water so cows stay both cool and hydrated, helping their bodies have the energy to create milk.
Many dairy farmers include fans and misters in the barns. Fans keep the air circulating to keep the barn from feeling as if you’re walking through the bed of an evaporating lake (I.e., the South 5 months of the year). Including misters in barns helps lower the cow’s body temperature, providing a cool sheen.
Of course, efforts to keep them cool mean cows need plenty to eat. Whether summer meals on the dairy farm focus on grazing or a special feed, dairy cows can happily munch. The heat isn’t going to ruin this feast!
And while milk production will still drop, there’s no need to worry about cows or the precious ice cream. Keeping cows cool keeps them comfortable and healthy, and so they continue producing the milk we love.