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Heat creates stress on cattle

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Recent high temperatures have resulted in a drop in milk production on dairy farms. 

Board Chairman for the Michigan Milk Producers Association Doug Chapin is a dairyman himself. He said farmers are seeing a drop in milk production. 

“Without a doubt. I have heard farms down three to five percent,” Chapin said. 

Chapin said cows are similar to people when it comes to heat. It causes them to get tired and eat less, which hinders milk production. 

“Normal summer doesn’t bother the cows too much, but when you get heat indexes over 90, that is a stress on cattle.”

He said many dairy farmers use fans, sprinklers and misters to help keep the cows cool. The type of barn also plays a role in how cows respond to heat. 

“Shade and airflow are important,” Chapin said. “The difference can be how much airflow they get and heat mitigation practices farmers take.”

Chapin said not all farmers have seen a drop in production, including himself, but with the heat expected to continue, that could change. 

“Sooner or later (cows) are going to start dropping in milk production. The longer it stays hot, the more milk you’ll lose.” 

“It turns into a stress on the cows and then into a stress on employees,” Chapin said. 

He said moderate temperatures and rain are needed to help alleviate stress on the cows.