Dairy farmers struggling through extreme heat
Jesse Ritka reports Video by tmj4.comvideo
WAUKESHA - Tuesday's cold front brought some relief from the scorching temperatures, but it has been a rough summer for dairy farmers.
"The cattle are having a tough time, we haven't had very long breaks between these heat periods and the cows can really only handle a day or two," Kari Renn tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka.
On a normal day, each one of Kari's cows will give almost 8 gallons or 80 pounds of milk. But in the heat, that number drops she says, "We go down to around 65 pounds, so it's a significant loss, a significant chunk out of the pocketbook."
Many dairy farms in southeast Wisconsin are feeling the same stress; milk production is down 15-25 percent. "It usually comes back slowly too, so you lose it then you get it back slowly. Our cows had just about recovered before this last heat hit," Renn explains.
When temperatures climb as high as they have, cows need to drink more water to stay cool and hydrated, sometimes up to 50 gallons per day.
"They drink a ton of water, our well; it seems like it never quits. The cows can make it so the water's coming out very slowly," Kari says.
And if the heat and drought continue, that slow trickle of water may even dry up.
"This has been a really tough year, tough year to keep your spirits up, but this is how we keep our spirits up, we're here at the fair with the kids and we have to have something to take our minds off of it and this is what we do," Renn says.
Wisconsin normally produces 2.3 billion pounds of milk per month.