Summer Heat Impacting Dairy Cow Production

GOOCHLAND, VA—Humans aren't the only ones impacted by hot weather. As temperatures rises, dairy cows can become uncomfortable, leading to a decrease in milk production.

On a normal day, a cow can produce around 10 gallons of milk, but as temperatures rise, milk production can go down.

“We try to keep them as cool as we can,” said Erin Henley, a herd manager at Alvis Farms.

About 730 cows are milked each day at Alvis Farms, translating to around 7,000 gallons of milk.

When temperatures rise above 70°F, the cows can become uncomfortable and stressed. As cows become stressed, they eat less, causing them to produce less milk.

“They convert their feed right into milk, so if they don't eat as much, they don't produce as much milk,” Henley explained.

When temperatures rise, milk production can drop about 10%, forcing farmers to find ways to keep their cows comfortable.

“They sleep on waterbeds with a fan on top of them,” Henley said about keeping the animals comfortable. “Those things make them feel more comfortable, so they can continue to produce about the same.”

Even though less milk is being produced, Henley says supply and price should relatively remain the same.

Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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