Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Long, Hot Summer

This last weekend was a trying time here in Nebraska for Farmers. We experienced 100+ degree temperatures, with no rain and high humidity. The heat we can handle but humidity is hard for cattle to handle. I just read somewhere the other day that a Human can handle high temperatures but not combined with humidity, I would imagine it’s the same for cattle. Luckily humidity is something that we’re pretty used to out here and are ready to take care of our cattle.

Some of the baby calves we moved outside
Baby calves aren’t usually something we worry about when it gets hot because they each have their own individual pen with a hutch, water, and feed readily available however this weekend those hutches acted like saunas. The calves would stay inside them because they thought that the shade was better than sitting out in the breeze (they didn’t know any better). The Holsteins (black and white ones) seemed to get over heated quicker than the Guernseys; they would be breathing hard and panting like dogs. So this weekend we decided to pull all the calves out of their hutches and put them in group pens in the shade. But to ensure that they were ok we went over numerous times a day to give them cold fresh water and pour water over them!

My little cousin Alex helping me check the baby calves.
He LOVES the farm!

The cows standing in the free stall barn cooling down
The group we really had to worry about though is the milk cows. Cows will spend on average about 5 hours a day eating at the feed bunk, I mean if I had to eat 90 lbs in a day I’m sure it would take me a lot longer! But because that’s where they a good amount of time we decided to invest in sprinklers above the feed bunk. They actually enjoy these quite a bit, they will stand under them even if they’re not eating. And I’ll be the first to admit they are a pretty big hit with anyone who needs a quick cool down or quick shower (I’ve walked under it more than my fair share of times). We also added a second big watering tank to their pen a couple of years ago. Having hot days means having cows drink 50+ gallons of water a day EACH (that’s A LOT of water!). We realized the need for another water when the cows were standing around waiting to drink, bored and impatient. Impatient and bored cows are good for no one, they tend to cause trouble and break things, so we decided a second water was a good way to keep our farm in one piece. Lastly our milk cows will spend about 12 – 14 hours a day resting. So to ensure that they stay cool where they will spend a majority of their time we have 5 big fans in our barn. We have a free stall barn with sand bedding that they like to lay in. There are studies (and common sense) that say if the rest area is comfortable to a cow then they will lay there. Well these stalls must be like satin sheets because sometimes getting these cows back up is a problem, they really enjoy laying in there all day!

Alex was helping me check the big cows too 
So for the most part we had very few problems with our cows and the high heat this weekend, which is great! But that doesn’t mean that we stopped checking them or doing everything we could to make sure they handled the heat the best they could! However since it was the 4th of July we did get some excellent fence put up and other random projects done around the farm. Dad was glad to see that my indoor air conditioned office job wasn’t making me soft to hot weather!

This is how my genius brothers cool down

1 comment:

  1. Your brothers really are geniuses! And an excellent shot of the true farmer's tan!