Local farmers face challenges during heat wave

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Normally full of cows grazing and enjoying the outdoors, the pasture is empty at local Cross-Wake Dairy Farm.

“I mean, I’ve never had it this hot before,” co-owner of the farm John Wakeley said.

The thermostat in one barn read 92.1 degrees, but that’s nothing compared to how it felt outside.
And John Wakeley is taking some precautions.

“I just drink a lot of water and try to stay in where it’s as cool as possible, but obviously we have to be out here taking care of the animals and everything,” John Wakeley said.

The Wakeley’s periodically check on their cows throughout the day, but co-owner Tammy Wakeley says she can tell if a cow is sick from the heat, but you might be surprised how.

“The cow’s body temperature is naturally 101.7 and as they’re being milked we can see what their body temperature is,” Tammy Wakeley explained. “And right now, with the heat this afternoon, it’ll be anywhere from 103 to 104 degrees.”

For that reason, the Wakeleys have several ways of cooling the cows down, from blowing fans to misters. Milk production drops at these temperatures and if a cow does get sick from the heat, the Wakeley’s know how to handle it.

“We give them aspirin usually if it’s just a high fever because if their body temperature is that high obviously we’d like to get it down as quick as possible and put them underneath fans,” Tammy Wakeley said. “If we have to we have pens open, we can throw them there and we have fans on them in there as well so, we can get them cooled down as quickly as possible.”

As the sun sets on these hot summer nights, the Wakeley’s say the cows return to the pasture, where they will remain overnight, until it gets hot again in the morning.

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