Friday, August 26, 2011

Keeping the Ladies Cool

By Kimmi Devaney of Winners Drink Milk

Summer is in full swing here in Indiana. For many of you that may mean a trip to the beach to cool off. While cows can’t escape to the beach, dairy farmers ensure they stay as comfortable as possible. Dairy cows are most comfortable when the temperature is between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so how do they stay cool in the hot and humid weather we have been having lately?

Many dairies install large fans in their barns to increase ventilation. At the dairy I worked at, we had sprinklers over the feed lanes to cool cows off and encourage them to eat more feed. Increased feed consumption means higher milk production.

Barn construction is also an important part of cow comfort. When the ridge of the barn is open it allows heat to escape, thus keeping the barn cooler. Cross ventilated barns have also increased in popularity in recent years and are amazing from a cow comfort perspective.  Cross ventilated barns use a row of fans and evaporative pads to cool the air as it moves throughout the barn. It’s like air conditioning for the cows. In addition, some dairy farmers use sand bedding in their barns. So it’s like a day at the beach for the cows every day!
Water consumption may be one of the most important aspects of keeping cows cool. Just like humans, cows can get dehydrated. When this happens, milk production decreases.  Therefore, dairy farmers ensure that cows have access to clean, fresh water 24 hours a day. Cows can drink 40-50 gallons of water or more each day. That’s a bathtub full of water!
Why is it so important to keep cows cool?
Comfortable cows produce more milk, and milk production decreases during hotter weather. This means the farmer has less milk to sell. Not good. Keeping cows cool can help maintain—or at least minimize the milk lost due to high temperatures—milk production during these hot summer months.
Now that you’ve learned about a few of the ways dairy farmers keep their cows cool during the summer, make sure that you stay hydrated and cool—the summer’s not over yet! Milk—regardless of flavor—is the perfect beverage to help you rehydrate. Did you know that milk is 87% water by volume? The combination of protein and carbohydrates in the remaining 13% make milk a nutrition powerhouse. Now there’s a drink you can be proud to serve your family. Got milk?

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