Dairy dilemma: Cold chills milk production, threatens cow health, increases feed costs

Capital News Service
LANSING — The seemingly everlasting winter chill might cost Michigan dairy farmers whose cows are trying to stay warm. Farmers are treating cows with more than the usual number of pneumonia cases, chapped teats and udders, disturbed calving cycles and injuries from slipping on ice. And some of them might receive a lower paycheck from lackluster milk production thanks to the long, cold winter. Although cows prefer cooler temperatures, the animals need far more energy to survive during harsh winter weather, said Ron Erskine, Michigan State University professor of veterinary medicine. Because the animals are using the energy from food to stay warm, it is not going to milk production, Erskine said.