Keepin’ their cool

Greetings from Minnesota. It was a pleasant summer day with reasonable humidity and temps in the low 80’s.

Personally, I like it cooler than that, but it is July after all!

For our dairy cows, especially adult cows, it was still too warm for their liking.

I had a comment last post (thanks Wendy) asking about how we keep our cows cool in this heat. So tonight I think I’ll elaborate on just that.

Even though it’s cooled down from the oven we had earlier this week, cow cooling is important all summer long.

Dairy experts generally agree heat stress for adult cows can start around 68*F, so even if we don’t feel the heat the cows might.

(Maybe this also explains why they seem just fine during our -20* days in January. ;-))

The first tool we use for cooling may seem pretty simple. Fans. Lots and lots of them.


Each pen of cows has multiple fans strategically placed within the pen to allow for the best ventilation. Our heifer barns have fans in the walls to circulate air.


Even in winter we have some fans going to allow for movement of fresh air. In summer though, all fans are going full-throttle. We also have all curtains on the sides of the barns open as long as it’s not pouring rain.

For our Minnesota climate thick curtains are the best solution to allow for mostly closed walls during cold winter and fully open walls when summer gets hot. Fall and spring usually mean curtains are open somewhere around 1/2.

We also just got a big, new fan mounted in the ceiling above our holding pen. A holding pen is where the cows stand as they wait to come up to the milking parlor. Even the last cows don’t wait too long, but this new fan is still a great addition.


Something else we use for our milking cows is a misting/sprinkler system. In the picture below, you’ll see a white pipe near the top of the picture. The pipe has little sprinkler spigots, and the whole system is on a timer to mist the cows.



The timer can be adjusted in frequency, and the combination of cool water mist and fans really help our cows cool down.

Baby calves in hutches don’t have fans, but lately we’ve been able to place all new hutches in good shade. We monitor water buckets many times per day, and the little calves have been doing well.


Running Tales

I didn’t really keep my cool while running today, but it still felt good to take a rare summer afternoon run today.

I’ve missed running the past few mornings, and the breeze felt cool enough that I decided I would tackle a run under the bright afternoon sun.

Maybe against the odds, it felt good.

4.26 miles in 39:54 for a 9:22 pace. I’m pleased I managed sub-10 at all given how profusely I was sweating.

I haven’t picked up my running volume in July like I was hoping, but today was a good run.

Hope it’s cooled down some in your neighborhood.

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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8 Responses to Keepin’ their cool

  1. Brit says:

    What an interesting post! I hadn’t really thought about hot cows before, although I certainly spend a good amount of effort ensuring that my dogs are cool enough in the summer. Hot cows definitely should have occurred to me.

    Glad that you had a good run in the heat. I have been an indoor runner lately, maybe sometime when Chris is available to run with me I’ll tackle an outdoor run. I am nervous to run outside alone here until I learn the lay of the land better.

    • Lisa says:

      I think you’re smart for wanting Chris with on outdoor runs. Running in India sounds way cool, but doing it alone without knowing the area/norms/etc could be asking for trouble. Love reading about your adventures over there!

  2. My runs have been absolutely gross lately! I get no more than 3 miles in and I am dripping! Ah, well…it is not even August yet, so I shouldn’t be complaining too much already!

  3. Lauren says:

    same here for NC – 100* weather plus awful humidity. Any plans for fall races?

    • Lisa says:

      I hope so, but I still don’t have any definite races on the calendar yet. You, my readers, shall be 1st to know if I register for something!

  4. bearrunner says:

    Awesome job on the run! It is hard in the heat.. it was hot here last week (Finally)
    You have to get a cow pool for the cows to swim in haha
    It is interesting reading how you keep the cows cool

  5. Pingback: The 26.2 of June | Cow Spots and Tales

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