Farmers take steps to keep cattle comfortable in summer heat

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Many welcome with open arms the summer’s longer days and warmer temperatures. But those temperatures can be a source of stress for people and animals—including cattle.

That’s why farmers take extra care to ensure their animals stay cool and comfortable during the summer months.

“Farmers use a variety of tools to keep cows cool in the summer months,” explained Lindsay Reames,Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assistant director of governmental relations. “They have large fans to circulate air in the barns, and some have sprinkler systems to mist the animals and cool them off.

“Farmers also make sure their livestock have plenty of clean, cool water and shade.”

Casey Phillips works hard to keep his dairy cows comfortable in summer’s warm temperatures. At his Montgomery County farm, the dairy herd spends most of its time in  summer inside a large, open barn equipped with three 20-foot fans.

“We also have curtains that we can roll up in the summer and get the west and north winds inside to help keep it cool,” Phillips said. “When the temperature is at its hottest, I can guarantee that 100 percent of the time the cows will be inside the barn laying under the fans.”

Phillips said the temperature in the barn is at least 15 degrees cooler than outdoors, and the fans help make it an additional 15 to 20 degrees cooler.

“We let the cows go wherever they want—to pasture or to stay in the barn—but when it’s hot they stay in the barn and go out only at night when it’s cooler,” he said. “We let them do whatever makes them feel comfortable.”

Phillips uses automatic waterers to make sure the cows have easy access to water when they’re thirsty. “We care about our cows and work hard to make sure they stay comfortable.”