How to Beat the Heat on the Farm

Some like it hot, but cows do not! Did you know that dairy cows cannot sweat? And unlike dogs, their capacity to pant isn’t enough to keep them cool. Cows are large and weigh at least 1,500 pounds, which can create a lot of body heat. That’s why dairy cows prefer cooler temperatures ranging from 55-65°F. So, how does a dairy farmer make sure cows stay cool during hot summer weather?

First and foremost, dairy farmers provide their cows with an abundant supply of fresh water and shelter.

During the summer, dairy farmers take extra measures to help their cows manage the hot and humid weather. Most dairy cows in Pennsylvania are housed in freestall barns that have sides that can be opened. This helps to keep air moving.

Farmers also use high-powered fans over the cows’ stalls and feed bunks. Finally, water misters are used to cool cows, especially when used with the fans.

Have you noticed that when it’s hot, you don’t want to eat as much? Dairy cows are the same way. So, during the summer months, dairy farmers will modify the cows’ diet. They can decrease grains such as corn and forages such as hay to help reduce the heat produced by fermentation; they can supplement fats to increase the energy density of the diet.

So, while you may enjoy an ice cream cone on a hot summer day and cool down, remember, dairy farmers are keeping an eye on their cows to make sure they are cool, comfortable and well-hydrated!