How do Dairy Farmers Prepare for Hurricanes?
As storms approach the state, dairy farmers across Florida spend countless hours preparing to make sure their animals and farms would be safe and ready for what’s to come.
First on every farmer’s checklist is making sure their generators are up and running so that the milking parlors, barns, and essential functions of the farm can continue to operate if power is lost. No matter the conditions, the cows need to be kept safe, cool and, calm. The goal is keep to the same routine as much as possible.
Generator being tested and prepped at Butler Oaks Dairy in Lorida.
“Generators are necessary to milk cows in case of electricity outages. Like many farmers, we test our generator under a load every month, to keep it fresh.” Says Ben Butler of Butler Oaks Dairy.
His farm, located near Okeechobee, Florida, has been in the path of many hurricanes throughout the years and most recently experienced mother nature’s wrath two years ago when hurricane Irma swept through South Florida.
Another common procedure on farms is to move cows from barns into pastures where they are further away from potential danger when storms get close. While it may seem counterintuitive, most injuries during hurricanes stem from collapsing structures and flying debris.
Sutton Rucks of Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee working with farm employees to build a wall to protect the milking parlor from high winds.
In addition to preparing the animals, dairy farmers must also take steps to keep their families and employees safe throughout the storm. Sometimes this includes providing on-farm housing for employees and their families at the farm.
Cows are creatures of habit and don’t like big changes to their milking schedules which often means before the wind fully subsides, dairy farmers are out checking their cows and structures for damage and preparing to milk those cows who have waited the longest. No matter the matter the weather, the show must go on.