The new year is finally here, and we're ringing in the first week of 2014 with 210+ cows in the milking herd, a pay-price of over $20 per hundredweight of milk, and cold, cold weather.
I realize that "cold" in the Southeast isn't exactly what it is in other parts of the country (Minnesota, for example), but I've been wearing my long-johns just the same. We've had a little taste of freezing weather the last couple of days, but the really cold air is on its way and should arrive Sunday night. Once it gets here we won't see the mercury climb above 32° until Wednesday afternoon. The low point looks to be around 8° before sunrise on Tuesday...yikes!
Our main concerns during periods of below-freezing temperatures center around water. Troughs are going to freeze over, so we will have to bust ice to let the cows get to the water underneath. We will also have to use hot water to thaw frozen supply faucets in order to refill the troughs. Frozen wash lines in the milking barn are likely to be a problem, too. Sanitation is critical on a dairy farm, so keeping the wash system thawed and working properly will be a top priority. I spoke with WCBI-TV about these weather plans on Saturday:
We've made it through longer periods of even colder weather before, and we'll get through the next few days too. The cows and heifers will be just fine as long as we provide them with water and haul hay for them to munch on, the milking equipment shouldn't take too long to thaw out, and we will be bundled up at least four layers deep. Still, I sure will be glad when Spring finally rolls around!