Minnesota dairy farms battle cold weather

DUNDAS, Minn. - Like everywhere else the gals at Wolf Creek Dairy have had more than enough of the cold.

"I'm very tired of this winter," one worker said.

Owner Paul Liebenstein is on the lookout in his 400-cow herd for the complications cold weather can bring.

"I'm dipping them," he said.

Chapped and frozen teats have been a problem at some dairies, but so far Wolf Creek has been lucky.

"Heat will do more harm than the cold weather," he said. "It just makes it a real nuisance and you know, it gets really tiring on the cows and takes more work, but the heat makes them drop in milk production."

Body heat from the cows keeps the barn roughly 10 degrees warmer than the outside air. Bedding is put down regularly, and the cows are eating more.

But the biggest added expense is the propane that keeps the milking parlor warm and the floor heaters on so that the cows keep from slipping.

"What we normally use between fall and May is gone already, so we've used twice as much probably," Liebenstein said.

As for the calves, they are wearing jackets to keep warm.

"It's Thinsulate, so probably similar to the coat you have, but it just helps them preserve some of their body heat," Liebenstein said.

Without the body mass of their mothers calves are more susceptible to extreme temps.

Consumers might have notice a spike in dairy prices, but experts said that has more to do with overseas demand for dairy products and the California drought than our cold winter.


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