|Cows laying down is an excellent sign of cow comfort and cooling!|
You’ve been hot all day, chances are you are not very excited to eat anything. Cows and calves are the same way. Dairy farmers will work hard to keep extra cooler water available for the baby calves to drink as well as even supplementing water with electrolytes (much like Gatorade). Calves can be bedded with sand instead of straw which in the shade of their calf huts actually provides a dry and cool place for the calves to rest in the heat of the day. Calves can be further cooler by opening hatch doors on their huts and even lifting the huts up to accommodate more air flow.
For cows and heifers, they might be fed at night rather than the heat of the day to help them feel cooler and more eager to eat. Additionally, cows and heifers might be fed more frequently in the heat so they have the opportunity to have fresh feed more often. Feed spoils more quickly in the heat so fresh feed is critical. There are even electrolytes for cows that can be added to their water to improve their hydration. Dairymen and women might postpone doing some extra tasks during the week of heat stress, focusing on only doing the necessary tasks that provide excellent care. Vaccinating calves and cows during this weather is not advised, so not to put the animal’s immune system under even more stress. Moving cows to different pens is also not advised, however, when cows decide to have babies, that cannot be predicted. Cows calving are kept in cool, shaded locations and when they have delivered their calves, they receive plenty of cool water to drink. Cows are provided with lots of fresh bedding to keep dry after their sprinkler baths. Most dairy farmers will avoid breeding cows during the heat because the increased internal temperature of the cow reduces her chance of becoming pregnant.
In operations, dairy farmers are working to do everything they can to keep cows cool and keep them from getting stressed. Farmers will change feeding time from morning to night. They might not vaccinate or dry off cows during an extreme heat week like last week. The might also only do the necessary jobs on the dairy, allowing them to take care of themselves. So often farmers in general, will work tirelessly to take care of their cows and forget about themselves. It should be noted that they are some of the best people because of this but they put themselves at risk. I know dairies with employees will stock fridges with cool beverages and lots of frozen treats. They will encourage their employees to also take breaks when doing extremely physical tasks, like cleaning stalls. When a heat wave like this comes through, it effects everything from the cows to the people on the farm! Stay cool everyone!