The last few summers have indeed been warm, but this year its the humidity kicking things up a notch. So much so, the workers on this farm in Jefferson County, Murcrest Farms, are — for the most part — now able to wear shorts on the job.
“If we’re in the shop, working on heavy equipment and things like that where the extra safety of pants is necessary, then that’s what we do,” Mark Murray of Murcrest Farms said. “However, if we are operating equipment or out in the barn or whatever, shorts are more than okay on these hot days.”
If it’s too hot for farmers, imagine how hot it is for their 1,500 pound cows. They much prefer temperatures in the 50’s. In this kind of humidity, it doesn’t take much for the herd to quickly become overheated.
“They don’t really feel themselves,” Murray said. “They’re not going to want to eat as much. They’re not going to want to lay down as much. You kind of see them standing around. They’re just not super comfortable.
That’s when the worry of health problems come about. Not eating, stressed cows need comfort. It also impacts production and quality of milk. That’s why Murcrest has built and installed many of the things we use on hot days for the herd.
There are large shaded and insulated buildings with dozens of massive industrial fans. The bedding the cows rest and sleep in is sand, which in the shade, cools a cow’s underneath areas. There’s even a sprinkler system — almost like a dip in the pool.
“Anything that we can do to make the cow more comfortable and therefore she’ll continue to eat and then become a highly productive member of the herd is beneficial to both us and the cows,” Murray added.
Murcrest has seen such success with these measures, the farm is building three more barns to allow it to grow and ensure happy, healthy cows in the future.
The overhead fans also serve a dual purpose in both keeping cool air flowing in the barns, but also helping dry the cows after a quick cold water sprinkle.