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Farmers Concerned About Livestock as Heat Continues - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Farmers Concerned About Livestock as Heat Continues

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The hot weather isn't just affecting crops, it's also taking a toll on livestock, which directly affects you.

As the temperatures rise, poultry and cows produce less eggs and milk to be sold in the grocery stores. The string of hot days, in turn, is leaving some farmers feeling a little uneasy.

At the Baer Brothers farms southeast of Hawley, Minnesota, more than a million hens are laying 750,000 eggs each day.

Amon Baer, part owner of poultry operations at Baer Brothers, says when it gets over 90 degrees he starts to get nervous. "As the days heat up, the birds will begin to eat less and less feed. When they're eating less feed the egg size goes down," he says. He adds that the birds will also start laying less eggs.

Baer explains, "Most eggs we get paid by the size and the weight of them, so as the egg size drops we receive less income."

In the past couple weeks, egg size has dropped a little, but nothing has been too drastic so far. The Baers are keeping the ventilation system clean and working and are on standby if something does go wrong.

Though it's not just the hens affected by the temperatures. Cathy Balsiger, a caretaker at BGR Dairy north of Lake Park, says dairy cows don't want to do anything. They don't each as much, and, in turn, their milk production decreases.

"If they decrease their milk production, then obviously it puts a toll on us," says Balsiger.

Workers at BGR are doing anything they can to keep the cows cool. They have a constant flow of air for the cows in the barn, and they add more water troughs and feeding the ones outside earlier. "A cow's body temperature is a lot warmer than us. Their normal temp is at 101.5 degrees," says Balsiger.

For both Baer and BGR the best case scenario is for the weather to drop about 15-20 degrees, making it not only bearable for them but also the livestock.

Baer says workers at Baer Brothers also have to stay close to the hens in case the power goes out. They do have generators, but if those aren't working properly, it will only take a few hours to kill many of the birds in this heat.
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