Michigan heat and caring for cows
It has been an extremely hot summer here in Michigan. Recently, many people have asked me “Hey doc, how have the cows have been handling the heat?”
Upon thinking about their question, I realized I have not seen a lot of heat stroke this summer. The cows are under a lot of heat stress but no cases of heat stroke.
Which made me think, “Why?”
I realized that now-a-days, dairy barns are built to reduce the environmental stress on our cows, which helps to minimize the heat stress due to the hot summer weather.
In Michigan, dairy farmers build facilities to provide cows an environment to reduce the heat stress. Cows get fresh water and nutritious feed, clean, dry bedding to lay down and plenty of room to walk around, a roof to provide shade from the sun and open side walls for the wind to blow. Fans provide additional air flow and sprinklers will mist the cows which the breeze then evaporates and further cools her.
In the last 10-15 years the dairy industry had put a big emphasis on reducing heat stress in cattle in the summer. We have realized that not only does the heat stress reduce the cows’ milk production, but it also affects their overall health. Our primary goal is to keep the animals as healthy as possible. I now realize, in my dairy herds here in Michigan, the progress we’ve made with the overall design of our barns has a positive impact to reduce the heat stress on our dairy cows.