Hot weather affecting milk production on Wisconsin farms - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Hot weather affecting milk production on Wisconsin farms

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TOWN OF FRANKFORT (WAOW) -

Agricultural experts said this week's hot weather is stressing cows on Wisconsin's dairy farms.

They said the hot and muggy conditions can cut milk production up to 50% and that means less money for farmers.

The hot sun is beating down on Arnold Farms near Edgar.

The farm's more than 200 cows all seek relief from the heat and humidity.

"They're not as relaxed as normal, that's just the bottom line, they don't get quite enough rest, there's more standing, more panting," said Peter Arnold, Arnold Farms Owner.

Peter Arnold has owned the farm for 14 years.

He said each summer brings some really hot days but the intensity can be very different.

"Last summer, we think we already had like 16 days like this by now, whereas now, only two," said Arnold.

Farmers said they've already noticed the effects the warm weather has on their cows and they're finding ways to work around it.

"We installed more fans, we got some shade for them, like I said, plenty of water," said Arnold.

U.W. Extension experts said high heat and humidity stresses cows and can cut their feed intake and milk production by 10% to 50%, and even worse can cause their death.

"Their body system gets out of whack, they can't control it, get back to homeostasis, so it could result in death, so they really want to make sure they're doing everything they can to get those animals cool," said Heather Schlesser, Dairy Agent at U.W. Extension.

Arnold said he's seen more of the unpleasant side of summer the last few years.

He estimates at worst, the cut in his milk production, if this summer stays hot, could mean a loss of $15,000 to $20,000 dollars.

A loss he's working to avoid.

"If we do what we know we need to do, at the right time, we'll be ok," said Arnold.

The cows should get a break soon. Forecasters predict that by Saturday, daytime highs will be 15 to 20 degrees cooler.

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