Keeping cows cool a top priority for AZ dairy farmer's

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Dairy cows keep cool under the misting system. (19 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News] Dairy cows keep cool under the misting system. (19 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News]
The heat can slow milk production on dairy farms. (19 June 2017) [Source: 3TV / CBS 5 News] The heat can slow milk production on dairy farms. (19 June 2017) [Source: 3TV / CBS 5 News]
Hot cows don't produce a lot of milk. (19 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5 News] Hot cows don't produce a lot of milk. (19 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5 News]
BUCKEYE VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Making sure Arizona's dairy cows are cool and content is a top priority for dairy farmers, especially during this heatwave.

"Everything is comfort, if they're not comfortable, they're not going to produce milk for us," said Bill Kerr.

Kerr owns Kerr Dairy in Buckeye, he has around 1,100 cows that are milked three times a day.

"They look forward to going to the barn and getting milked, and then they get cooled off," he said.

That though, is just one of the ways the cows are able to get some relief.

Over the years, Kerr has added some key components to the corrals to help keep them cool.

"We gotta keep them in the shade, we gotta keep them with misters and fans on them, we've learned over the years how to do it," said Kerr.

Between the shade, automated fans, which kick on when it hits 90 degrees, and misters, Kerr says they're able to drop the temperature between 20 and 25 degrees.

"So if its going to be 118 like they're saying we're going to get it down into the low 90s or so and that's comfortable for the cows; they can handle it," said Kerr.

Still, production does dip a bit in the summer.

"There's no doubt it takes a hit," Kerr said adding, "we'll lose probably about 20 percent of our production in the summertime when it's hot."

It's something they expect and are able to plan for. 

The challenge is making sure the cows are able to maintain that summer time status quo, because a huge hit could impact production and potentially impact the price of milk. 

The federal government sets the price of milk, not dairy farmers.

Kerr said last year was tough for the dairy industry but they're hoping this year will be better.

Even as the Valley hit 118 on Monday, Kerr taking a moment to appreciate the little things, like the fact that this heatwave is hitting in June instead of monsoon-heavy July or August. "Dry heat is not as bad cause we can still cool them."

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