TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - With South Georgia heat indices reaching over 100, researchers said dairy farmers should be worried.
During the summer days when shopping for things like milk, cheese and butter, do you think about how extreme heat can affect the animal these products come from?
“Heat stress is an issue in the dairy industry more towards cows and our producers because it does influence the cows productivity and the economical return of our dairy producers,” said Sha Tao, a researcher and assistant professor at the UGA Tifton campus.
Tao said that anytime the heat index reaches at least 68 or higher, a dairy cow needs to be cooled off before getting heat stress.
“The primary consequences on cows is the reduction of milk production. So, without active cooling such as fans, mist or sprinklers, the cow can lose 15 to 20 pounds per day,” said Tao.
The UGA Tifton campus tested heat stress prevention on its own group of cows. Researchers used a fan that sprays mist and had a shed that opens at the top to let out the built up heat.
“Just like people, cows experience heat stress and the dairy cows that we have originated from Europe, that is more of a tempered climate rather than a subtropical climate like we live in,” said John Bernard, a professor and farmer.
Dairy cows aren’t the only ones effected by heat stress.
“It is just not a loss to producers but it is a cost to consumers as well and how we balance those markets long-term,” said Bernard.
Tao and Bernard said that as consumers, we should appreciate the dairy products we eat and drink daily as dairy farmers have one of the hardest jobs in the country.