During hot, summer months, Ohioans take extra steps to keep cool whether it's diving into the local pool or moving inside to an air-conditioned room. Similarly, Ohio's dairy farmers take further measures in the summer to ensure their cows are safe and comfortable.
"In the summer, temperatures rise and bring new challenges for Ohio dairy farmers," says Scott E. Higgins, American Dairy Association Mideast president and CEO. "Because summer heat can bring stress to cows, farmers make it a priority to plan ahead and work hard to make sure their cows remain cool and comfortable at all times."
In an effort to educate consumers, ADA recently released a new short video to explain how Ohio dairy farmers ensure their cows are healthy, safe and cool during the summer. The video is featured on www.ohiodairyfarmers.com.
During the summer, cows are housed in temperature-controlled barns with roofs and curtains that provide natural shade to keep them cool. In fact, a barn can be 20 degrees cooler inside than it is outside on a hot, sunny day.
Making sure bedding is soft, clean and dry also is important to keep the cows cool and comfortable. Many Ohio dairy farmers use sand as bedding because it stays cool in the summer and also keeps bacteria from growing.
In addition to bedding, fans and sprinklers are important ways that Ohio dairy farmers keep their cows cool on the hottest summer days. Dairy farmers use sprinkler systems in their barns to mist the cows. The sprinklers combined with large fans hung throughout the barn create a cooling effect that is very similar to air conditioners in houses. Both are set to thermostats that automatically turn on when the barn reaches a certain temperature.
Because dairy cows can drink more than 40 gallons of water each day during the summer, a continuous supply of fresh, cold water also is critical.
"Cow comfort is a top priority for the state's dairy farmers during the summer months and all year long," said Higgins.
In Ohio, there are 272,000 dairy cows that live on more than 3,200 dairy farms located throughout the state. In 2010, Ohio's dairy cows produced 5.27 billion pounds, or more than 600 million gallons of milk, ranking the state 11th in total dairy production.