Hot Cows Could Mean Higher Milk Prices This Summer

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Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/Getty Images
We all know you're supposed to keep the milk you buy cool to keep it from spoiling prematurely. But apparently, it's also important that the cows producing that milk don't get too toasty.

According to Accuweather, the West experienced a stretch of record-breaking high temperatures in June and July, and another heat wave is predicted to hit the Midwest soon. All that brutal heat, they say, will have an impact at grocery stores across the country. High temperatures affect cows' energy levels; the overheated cows tend to eat less and feel "heat stress," both of which cause them to produce less milk. And when large numbers of America's cows produce less milk, the laws of supply and demand take over, and milk gets pricier.

So how hot is too hot? Well, according to Dr. Tamilee Nennich of Purdue University, a professor of animal sciences quoted by Accuweather, cows begin to experience "heat stress" when the temperature/humidity index hits 72 degrees. With temperatures in the Midwest expected to remain in the 80s and 90s through the next couple of weeks, we could be looking at a lot of cows who are too hot to produce as much milk as usual. And Accuweather says that things will get even worse in September, when heat peaks in many parts of the country.

Fortunately, there are ways to cool down cows and keep the milk flowing. Marie teVelde, a dairy industry group spokeswoman, chimes in to explain that farmers ease the heat stress on their herds by providing shade and water, as well as using fans and water soakers.

But all of that might not be enough to keep milk prices from rising along with the mercury. So if the cost of a gallon of 2% -- or a half-gallon of rocky road -- goes up as the season wears on, don't blame your local supermarket, blame global warming.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.



Correction: An alert reader pointed out that the previous picture included in this article was of beef cattle, not milk cows. We apologize for the mis-steak ... the moo-stake ... or rather, the error.

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90 Comments

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Rat Bastard

Milk does NOT do a body good!!
Let them raise the prices, I havent drank that stuff in over 13 years. It's acidic and causes more bad than any good. If there was ever any good from cows milk.

July 16 2013 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mikcl4

More jew propaganda, yet another made up story to try and justify price goughing on yet another food product, we need to get the price goughers out of our country.

July 16 2013 at 7:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
itooso

Hot milk anyone, lol lol :D

July 16 2013 at 6:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ray

quit buying milk. the government will have to do something about it they subsidize most of it.. milk is bad for you anyway. salt/sugar/white flour/ lard/ most white things are bad for you.

July 16 2013 at 3:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rick

Pure BS ! Just another unjustified way to jack up prices on something else. This is the "excuse de jour" for another price increase on something ! UNBELIEVEABLE !

July 16 2013 at 2:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vdozierslz

That funny...Hot Cow may make milk prices go up?" What did they do last year and the year before to keep the Cow cooler? It's not like All of a Sudden this heat is upon them, and the farmer's don't know what to do, of course they know what to do! Srpay'em down with a cool water mist, don't crowd them unbearibly together so they cann't move or breath (we have all seen the horrible pictures of how some cows and calfs are treated at some farmes, and man...it is aweful,horrible sight. Sometimes I think them people that mistreat animals should be thrown to the flor, and treated exactly how they treated their animals, Yeal!!!

July 16 2013 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gumby

I am beginning to wonder why the EPA hasnt even begun regulating the cow emissions , er, (flatuence and regurgitating) as well as other livestocks like pork and chicken, etc. Isnt it about time that we start containing the huge volume of those emissions somehow . maybe in closed enviroments like geodomes . Geodomes are very economical ways to shelter anything while providing ample of air indoors for respiration and climate control. We can trap methane gases , etc from livestock and use it to run powerplants. Every so often, I drive by livestock yards and I am usually overwhelmed by the stench ! Also, livestock farmers can make great compost out of wood chips, weeds, ranch prunings with the excrement from livestock by spreading those materials on the stenching muddy cesspools often seen at those livestock yards. Pig urine are often overlown and let running down into local streams, tell me why those airheaded pork farmers are still allowed to do so?

July 13 2013 at 5:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gumby's comment
h.hughjardon

I'm doing my part....I'm eating the cows and pigs.

July 14 2013 at 9:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
strsa

Really? That's a good one. Just one more made up excuse to charge American's more money. I'm pretty sure it gets hot every summer.

July 13 2013 at 1:53 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
h.hughjardon

The fedrtilizer is getting deep.

July 13 2013 at 12:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
fm2n

Humans are the only mammals that drink milk after being weaned of mothers milk, let alone from a different species.
You don't need milk, calcium in milk is the wrong type to be absorbed by humans, get it from vegetables. fruits and nuts.http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/12-vegetables-high-in-calcium.html#b

July 13 2013 at 12:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to fm2n's comment
h.hughjardon

Not so good on cereal.

July 13 2013 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to h.hughjardon's comment
itooso

Box of Cereal is almost $5.00 a box, and they said a couple of years ago that their prices would be lower, that was a lot of cow s..t.

July 16 2013 at 6:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
h.hughjardon

The farm cats at my family's dairy farm in Tillamook, OR lap that stuff up.

July 13 2013 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply