How farmers care for their cows
Dairy farmers care for their cows around the clock.While some methods may vary depending on farm size, location or other factors, across the country, dairy cows come first on a dairy farm – and we want to show you how that happens. Scroll through the slideshow below to learn more about the many different ways dairy farmers care for their cows.
Farmers work with cow nutritionists to make sure their cows have a balanced diet. These experts understand the science behind feeding dairy cows and create the right diet for different stages of a cow’s life.
Every day, farmers put food in front of the cows’ stalls. But when they eat, cows often push some of the feed beyond their reach. No worries, though, farmers have that covered. Some farmers will manually push the feed closer to the cows or use a tool attached to a tractor to “sweep” the food into place. Tech options include using a robot that moves along the stalls to push the feed toward the cows to make sure they get every bite they need.
Many farmers use sand in their barns as cow bedding. Sand is comfortable because it easily conforms to a cow’s body, plus it stays cool and can easily be cleaned. Farmers even use a tool that fluffs the sand each day to provide the cows with an added touch of comfort!
Inside the barn, many farmers have more systems to keep things cool, including high-tech fans and misters. The fans, which can be as wide as 48 inches, create a constant breeze. They typically include a thermostat and are designed to kick on once the temperature reaches a certain level. Barns also have a system of hoses that release droplets of water in front of the fan blades to create a steady mist of water that covers the cows. When water evaporates from the cows’ bodies, it instantly lowers their core temperature.
Some farmers have taken the business of cooling cows to a whole new level. For example, Florida dairy farmer Don Bennink created tunnel-shaped barns (above) that have fans at one end to create a vacuum-like effect and pull air constantly through the barn. This breeze can keep the barn about 15 degrees cooler than the outside temperature.
When Arizona dairy farmer Jen Millican shared this photo with her friends, they were stunned. Some of them commented that their houses weren’t even this cool. On the farm, ceiling-mounted, computerized fan-like structures blow cool air on the cows along with a mist of cool water. As a result, the pens are usually 30 to 40 degrees cooler. Plus, Millican’s pens have large shades that raise or lower at different times of the day as the sun’s position changes. Learn more!
Other farmers have come up with different types of “air conditioning.” For example, in Wisconsin, the Kinnard family installed a cooling wall to one side of their barn. Cool, recycled water flows down the wall and fans on the other side blow cool air through.