Cows under the Misters
I took some video earlier this summer and decided to make a short little clip about what we do at the dairy to keep cows cool and comfortable. In California, it often gets pretty hot in the summer and cows do not tolerate heat very well because of their thick skin. Sometimes it gets over 110 degrees in the California valley, so we use a variety of ways to keep our cows cool in the summer.
Our dairy has an advantage that other dairies do not have though so we are pretty lucky. We live near the delta in California, an area that is the waterway to San Francisco. We usually get a pretty cool breeze throughout the day from the air that flows though the delta. The cool breeze that we get is very helpful in the summer.
There are many ways to keep cows cool. Shade is the obvious one. In the video, you can see the much larger barn in the background. That is our newest barn on the dairy, and has been designed to maximize air flow and shield the cows against the sun. The large barn creates an atmosphere that is usually 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature in the summer. The older barns are less effective, but still provide some protection.
Some dairies use fans, and place them throughout the dairy to help increase airflow to keep the cows cool. On our dairy, we only have fans in the milk barn, but they are very effective in keeping the area cool.
An Effective Tool
Mister are probably one of the most effective ways to keep the cows cool. At 80 degrees, we turn on the misters. These misters are basically just water lines with little mister nozzles that put out a fine mist. The mist keeps the cows cool.
Although this summer was pretty mild, with very cool temperatures, we still used our misters quite a bit. We want to keep the cows cool because the hot weather will stress them out. When the cows are stressed, they are more susceptible to disease, and produce much less milk. So it is really in our best interest as cow caretakers to keep them comfortable in the summer and protect them from hot temperatures.
The combination of shade, fans, and misters really do keep our cows cool, and help keep these cows happy California cows.