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Global Warming forces researchers to think harder.

August 22, 2010

A California utility decided to spend almost $50,000 to aid research in developing a more efficient way to cool off cows during a heat wave.

The most common method today utilizes fans that can cost a dairy farm with 1,100 cows an average of over $7000! A system developed by Arizona researchers forces well water through pipes running underneath the cows’ stalls cooling the heat above to temps that cows are comfortable with. High heat causes low milk production and even cow deaths. During a one 3-day period of 110-plus degree temps in 2006, 3400 cows died in one county alone!

I am just wondering why this type of system wasn’t developed sooner. It’s not like we haven’t had an energy crisis before. I am sure there are farms utilizing innovative energy saving systems that haven’t caught on with the typical farmer. These days, with increasing heat, it is necessary to develop efficient systems. After all, decreased energy use not only saves money, but reduces emissions, which most scientists believe contribute to global climate change.

Here’s the article which appeared in today’s Spokesman Review

MODESTO, Calif. – Tinkerers in the dairy industry are looking at a new way of keeping cows comfy on warm summer days.

Their research, aided by $48,893 from Turlock Irrigation District, a California utility, aims to replace the power-sucking fans in use today with a system that relies on circulation of cool water from underground.

“It’s a pretty simple concept, and if it works, it would be a big benefit in keeping cows cool in summer,” dairy farmer and utility board member Joe Alamo said Thursday.

The board voted last week to help pay for research at a dairy farm near Tulare, Calif., over the next month and a half. The money comes from a state-mandated fund for energy efficiency and other “public benefit” efforts, said Nancy Folly, consumer programs division manager for Turlock Irrigation District.

The technology was developed by AgriAire Inc. of Chandler, Ariz., and tested at a University of Arizona research center.

The Tulare demonstration will try to cool 52 cows under real-life conditions. The University of California-Davis is helping with the test.

A typical system works like this: Water is pumped from an existing farm well, exiting at 61 to 73 degrees, and enters a device called a heat exchanger beneath a cow’s stall. This creates an updraft of cool air that mixes with the warm air above, ideally achieving a temperature that a cow likes.

The animals can start to feel heat stress at temperatures in the 80s with zero humidity, according to previous University of Arizona research. Thus, the cooling system could be used from spring to fall and would be especially useful in summer.

Heat can reduce milk output, and extreme heat can kill. More than 3,400 cows died in Stanislaus County during a three-day stretch of 110-degree-plus weather in 2006 – a heavy blow to one of the county’s main economic drivers.

Most dairy farms use large electric fans to keep their cows cool, aided by misters or other devices that spray water. A typical 1,100-cow farm pays an estimated $7,312 a year to power 55 fans, Folly said.

The new system would rely on the electricity already used to pump groundwater for use in water troughs, misters and milking parlor cleaning.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2010 8:01 pm

    I guess they have discovered that when the temps get above 80 degrees, the cows produce buttermilk and that makes it harder for the suction cups to pull the milk?
    I’m not an advocate of butter or sour milk in either case. lol

  2. August 22, 2010 8:06 pm

    Most likely could have saved allot of money just by building a damned stock pond for the cows to walk into and cool themselves down…..that is what natural raised cows do.

    As to getting too hot during milking, the fans over head should be fine during the short milking phase—-most likely too hot for the employees —hahahaha

    BTW: My first comment was a sarcastic JOKE above…hahahaha….

  3. August 23, 2010 9:44 am

    lisa, I dunno, when it’s over 100 degrees for days on end, you need to come up with better ways than fans. I dunno about the stock pond. Sound like a mess if you have a lot of cows. And what if you are limited on water?

  4. August 23, 2010 1:18 pm

    What is more natural than for a cow to choose to wade out into a pond of water to cool off? Yes, they are messy, but farms and ranches all have been doing that since I can remember.
    Unless they are attempting to keep the cows in a sterile environment like a stall 24/7, which is insane and un natural and unhealthy for the cows, the stock ponds would help.
    Water can be piped in from a well as an alternative, and dug deep for those times of good rain to fill them up.
    I’m not sure exactly of what the environment is where the cows are located, but your report makes it sound like the farms are not ideal to begin with and are attempting to change things locally, when the farm location might should be moved to a better area that could sustain the large herds in a more natural and healthy environment.

  5. August 23, 2010 1:25 pm

    As for fans on live stock, guess I’m bad because I haven’t put fans up in my pastures to cool off my livestock in the 100+ heat wave of over a month here? If I had an animal locked up in a stall, then YES, they should have a fan on them and plenty of water to drink at all times. Otherwise, animals will cool themselves off naturally at a water source IF dumb ass man provides one for them.
    Guess if they were dry lotted, water sprinklers could be installed—the water would help cool them down and give them a mud pit to roll in to providing a mud layer on their coats to protect from the sun, heat and flies.

  6. August 23, 2010 2:24 pm

    lisa, yeah. maybe those dairy cows spend all their time in the stalls. How sad. Anyway, far be it from me to argue with a cowgirl. haha

  7. August 23, 2010 3:15 pm

    LOL—no just irritated at mankinds stupidity—they would WASTE $50,000 trying to develop a way to cool the herd, instead of buying property that could hold a herd that size in a natural and healthy environment. Mankind is a cruel, selfish greedy beast, IMO
    I’m sure the cows live in a un-natural sterile type environment, it saves the men time in cleaning them up for milking. That’s progress huh? Sick bastards….
    They do the same thing to Premarin mares so they can collect the urine….hormone replace for women, when a herb supplement works just as well—I know cause I’ve taken both.

  8. August 23, 2010 5:56 pm

    and what about the puppy mills lisa? They find them around here every now and again. What an awful way to treat animals.

  9. August 23, 2010 8:40 pm

    Right on Rose. I know a serious dog breeder who raises allot of puppies(3 litters a year from different females), but they are housed in the home as part of the family. They have their own room in the house, but she does crate them on occasion. She also shows her dogs.
    I’ve seen film of puppies crammed into cages with no room to move, not sure if, for the most part, that is before of after the ‘rescuers’ get there?? I think most cases are not as they might appear to the public…seen whole herds of horses removed by so called ‘rescuers’ because they wanted them for resale or had a buddy that wanted the horse owners land. But I also never doubt the total cruelty of the nature of mankind nor their greed, towards others or helpless animals.

  10. August 23, 2010 8:53 pm

    Check out how the EPA is involved in the Dairy industry! This is most likely the problem in CA….too much cow farting for the neighborhood….

  11. August 24, 2010 3:38 pm

    Shady…. 😀

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