Hello summer! It’s nice to know you’re still around . . . now please leave!
Working out in the California heat is absolutely insane right now. With highs well over 100°F and lows staying in the 80s, it is the season of working smarter, not harder. Still, you need to make sure all your ducks are in a row. With this heat comes the responsibility to make sure the cows never notice the rise in temperature and everyone working with the cows is also healthy.
On our farm, we have spent a lot of time and effort attempting to mitigate the sharp increases in temperatures that we see in our area. We have fans, misters, and soakers that are all run on thermostats. Why thermostats? Because cows are going to start heat stressing before us humans notice it’s hot, and the thermostat takes the human component out of the equation.
I love sharing the things we do to help keep the cows cool in the summer because the average everyday consumer has no clue! Most people think that when it’s hot, everything is hot. However, when they get to see what our cows actually look like in the heat, chilling in their beds under super cool air, it blows their mind. Cow comfort is incredibly important to dairy farmers, but it is also important to those who purchase dairy as well. They want to know that our animals are well taken care of.
But what about us working with the cows? The cows get to hang out in the cool air and misters, but we have to be in the sun! True, but this is where working smarter, not harder comes into play. This is also when you learn that water is life, shade is key, rest is an option, and electrolyte popsicles are God’s gift to the hardworking farmer.
I am the king of pushing myself too far! I think we have all been there. It’s just going to take a few more minutes, you think, and before you know it, it’s been a few hours. It’s intolerably hot, you are out of water, and the world is spinning, but you have your eyes on the prize and are not ready stop. Let me tell you now, it’s okay to take a break and regroup.
Heat stress is just as real in humans as it is in cows, and it is just as important to take care of yourself as it is the cows. Prioritizing what is important and planning ahead will get you a long way, but being able to push the pause button when you are facing heat exhaustion may save your life.
As the heat wave in California is in full swing, let this be a reminder to everyone. Keep your cows comfortable and yourself healthy. Tomorrow is another day full of challenges and rewards that you are not going to want to miss.
Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently partners with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.