Four ways dairy farmers keep their cows cool in the summer

It wasn’t just people looking for ways to beat the summer heat following a recent surge that saw temperatures hovering near 100 degrees across the Northeast.

Believe it or not, dairy cows are extremely sensitive to heat and actually prefer cooler temperatures; therefore, when the temperatures begin to rise (cows start to experience heat stress as low as just 68 degrees), dairy farmers must begin working to ensure cows’ safety, wellbeing and productivity.

So, how exactly do dairy farmers keep their cows cool during the summer months, so they’re comfortable and can produce milk to the best of their ability? Some practices may differ from farm to farm, but here are four common ways you’ll see cows cooling off on the farm:

  1. Misters and sprinklers. Misters and sprinklers aren’t just for cooling off at a splash pad or water park – cows love using them to cool off too! These sprays can be found strategically placed throughout the farm in high-traffic areas like feeding lines and holding pens, just to name a few.
  2. Large fans. Similar to sprinklers, large fans – propeller or ceiling fans – are installed strategically on dairy farms to help “moo-ve” the hot air away from the cows while also circulating fresh air.
  3. Cool water. How much water do cows need? The simple answer is enough to quench their thirst. On a typical day a dairy cow might drink anywhere between 30-50 gallons of water. However, during periods of heat stress, that number may double to 60-100 gallons. To put that into perspective, a standard bathtub holds about 80 gallons of water.
  4. Shade and curtains. Barns are the ultimate safe haven for cows. Not only are they typically equipped with misters, fans and water, but barns provide the best protection from the sun and other outside elements. Furthermore, curtains help dairy farmers to regulate the temperature inside the barn.

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