You don’t have to have a new free-stall barn to use fans and sprinklers to cool your cows, says one Virginia dairy producer. You just have to think outside of the traditional box.

At his farm, an old hay barn was converted into an open bedded-pack barn. In addition, the feed bunk from outside was moved into the center alley; sprinkler lines were run over the top rail, and fans were placed throughout the barn. (All of the fans are automatically controlled by thermostats.)

The results have been great. Before the sprinklers and fans were installed, milk production dropped by 20 pounds per cow per day — from 75 pounds to 55 pounds — during the summer of 2003. Now, milk production stays in the mid-80s during the summer, down just slightly from the 90-plus pounds his cows average the rest of the year.