Do hot cows mean higher milk prices?

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Searing temperatures have scorched California for weeks, and as triple-digit temperatures continue, attention is turning to one of the state’s biggest industries: dairy.

According to AccuWeather.com, the oppressive heat wave is having an impact on the delicate balance of keeping livestock healthy and productive.

"California dairymen take the comfort of their cows seriously and work hard to meet the animal's needs," Marie teVelde, director of communications for California Dairies, said. "During the hot summer months, adequate shade and water is provided to minimize the effects of high temperatures."

If the hot weather keeps expanding further to the east, consumer could see a rise in dairy costs. Read more from AccuWeather.com.

Tamilee Nennich, associate professor of animal sciences at Purdue University, explains that dairy herds in the Midwest could also be experiencing heat stress, even if the mercury falls short of triple digits.

"On average, dairy cows start to experience heat stress when the temperature/humidity index is 72 degrees," Nennich said in a Purdue Dairy Digest Podcast. "New research has shown that high-producing dairy cows may start to experience heat stress at temperatures closer to 68 degrees."

Experts urge dairy farmers to prepare in advance for rising temperatures to stay ahead of heat management problems. In a recent study, when late-gestation cows suffer heat stress, their calves pay the price, too. Click here to read more.

To help combat heat, Jamie Jarrett, dairy nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition, advises producers to considering several strategies, including investing in shade, fans and sprinklers for both the lactating herd and dry cows and taking steps to keep the holding pens cool.



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