Keeping cows cool as temperatures rise is “tough”

Some farms in Eastern Iowa are finding ways to keep their livestock cool during the summer months. Blake Hansen, a farmer at Hansen’s Dairy in Hudson said taking care of farm animals is difficult, especially in this Midwest heat. 

Hansen’s Dairy Farm has been in the family for seven generations, operating with the help of one of the youngest Hansens.  

"Sometimes, in the mornings, I help do chores, feed the cows, and do whatever else needs to be done," Reese Hansen said. Reese is Blake Hansen’s 9-year-old daughter.   

350 Holstein cows are born and raised on the farm, and 150 of those cows are milked twice a day. 

"They provide us with plenty of food and milk, as well as cream to make ice cream and butter," Blake Hansen said.  

However, caring for these cows is no easy task when summer rolls around. 

"Summer time is really hard on animals and people," he said. "When it gets 80-90 degrees plus humidity, it gets tough on everybody." 

Hansen said when temperatures start to rise, the cows eat less and produce less milk. 

"On a good day, a cow would produce 80 pounds of milk per day," he said. "When the hot summer months come around, we’re dropping 10 to 12 pounds per cow." 

During the summer, the Hansens take extra steps to make sure their animals don’t overheat.  
 
"During the day, [the cows] are inside in the shade with sprinklers running on them," Blake Hansen said. "They’re running all day. I have them on a cycle where they’re on for 10 minutes and off for 10 minutes."  

Hansen said the cows enjoy standing in the barn and soaking up the water, which keeps them cool all summer long.

"It’s just that water is all you can do, really," he said. 

According to Hansen, older cows have the most problems with the heat. He said sometimes, he has to take their temperatures, making sure they never go above 105 degrees. 

Hansen said he’s taken care of his family’s cows this way during the summertime since he was a little kid. He also told KWWL the cows actually prefer the winter months, even when it’s 10 degrees below zero outside. 

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