At the Sweet Farm in Fletcher, Vermont, Kelly Sweet milks 255 Jerseys and Holsteins in a modern facility using robotic milkers.
“If you don’t build for those conditions, it’s your own fault. It’s not like we’re retrofitting what we already have. If you’ve been through cold weather, and dealt with cold before you say, let’s do something so we don’t have to deal with that in the future.”
The milking facility stays at about 42 degrees, even in winter. Most of the heat comes from three main sources: the air compressor that cools the milk, the compressor for the robotic milkers, and the cows’ body heat.
“I read somewhere that each cow generates 2,350 BTUs. We have 255 of them in here keeping this barn warm. It’s hard to believe a barn this size there’s no heat in this beside the cows.”
Unfortunately, not all of the cows on Sweet’s farm are able to take shelter from the cold in this modern facility.
“Our calves are in a colder facility. We did some different stuff out there, where we took some hay, stacked some hay and made like a hay igloo. They go in there, and the body heat from the calves [warms them.] We put blankets to help keep them warm too. Young calves just don’t have the coats to keep them warm or the fat reserves.”
The only cows that stay outside all winter are Sweet’s Scottish Highlanders, who are built like Wooly Mammoths. Sweet says they’re fine as long as they have food, water, and extra bedding.
How do you keep your cows warm in the winter? Tell us in the comments!
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