Are you a heat-stressed cow? How hot weather is bad for the economy


How’s this for a down side of global warming Mr and Mrs Economists?

So I’m currently studying for a Farm Management Diploma with my husband so we can manage our 50 acres of land in a smart, efficient and environmentally friendly way.  While we are not going to take on any live stock other than bees we have been learning quite a bit about the life and times of cows, sheep and goats over the last few months.  The following information really struck a chord with me.

Australia has a cool cow program.

Yes, that’s right a government initiative to teach cow farmers (or whatever you call them) how to manage their stock in our hot climate!   Now it’s not that I’m a complete imbecile, I’ve often driven past fields of cows in hot weather and found them scrunched up under the one remaining paddock tree but I stupidly assumed that cows were pretty hardy and didn’t care too much whether it was 4 or 40 degrees.  OK so I probably am quite stupid….

Apparently they do care, they care a lot and they can suffer from heat stroke, a situation that hits the hip pocket of the farmer and therefore the economy at large.

Cows get sicker, put on less weight, produce less milk and are generally less interested in life when they get too hot.

Rather like people.

I’m  a person who hates the heat and after six or seven weeks of temperatures here in the Blue Mountains topping 26 C and over 60% humidity during the day and not dropping below 20C over night I’m feeling like a heat stressed cow myself. We have no air conditioning and sadly for me both my office and my lab are hot houses so I’ve literally been melting from around 2pm onwards.  I’ve not been sleeping well and have generally felt like rubbish.

I’ve also noticed how my lack of sleep has had me feeling like reaching for a sugar hit again. I dramatically cut back on my sugar intake last year to improve my overall health and overall I’ve found it easy to stay on the straight-and-narrow until I’ve been faced with the torture that is a long, hot and very sticky summer.

Not only is the lure of sugar hard to resist there is also the urge to just sleep all day.  It really isn’t good.

So, in light of the fact that there are still some big hitting business people and politicians that deny climate change or talk down any climate crisis I wonder how they feel about this?   We are already feeling the economic impact of hot cows and it’s only a matter of time before our humans start dropping in productivity.

Maybe we should start thinking about that.

Wouldn’t want to starve the economy now would we?


PS: If you are interested in our farming exploits they are discussed over on my other blog which can be found here. 



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