July 27 2017 11:10 AM

High temperatures and high humidity make July and August especially difficult for Southern dairy farms.

I’m not real sure if it is just a Southern thing to know what it means to have “Georgia weather,” especially around July and August, but these two months are the extreme heat months for us. The last few days we have had heat indexes over 110° Fahrenheit. The average humidity exceeds 70 percent each day here in Georgia right now.

When it is nearing 100° outside with over 70 percent humidity, it literally feels like you are baking in an oven. Fortunately, the usual 4 p.m. daily pop-up rain shower helps us cool off for a few minutes.

This extreme heat takes a HUGE toll on any of our animals outside of the freestall barn. We try to do everything we can to deviate the amount of heat stress on those animals. This year we have had heat stress issues with all ages of cattle, from calves and heifers to dry cows.

As we are drawing up blueprints to put robotic milking systems into the freestall barn, we are actually making room to put most of our dry cows in the barn alongside the milking herd. Hopefully, this will help the cow’s transition into the dry period without as much heat stress.

During July and August, our fresh cows are what you would call fragile. We try and stay on top of those cows coming back into the barn knowing how much heat stress they have been going through the last few weeks of pregnancy. You definitely see more retained placentas and cases of metritis during this time of year. Hopefully, this will trend downward with the movement of the dry cows into the freestall barn.

Until then, we will keep doing what we can to keep those cows and all the animals on the farm cool. Today’s forecast isn’t quite as hot as normal, but it will still be 90°, with a fog advisory until lunch, and humidity at 98 percent.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.