Extreme heat taking its toll on Tennessee agriculture industry

 Heat wave taking a hit on revenue for local dairy farmer
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 19:15:17-04

ETHRIDGE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Brian Flowers has been farming his whole life.

"You've got to love to do it for the work," he said. "It's a 100-plus hour a week job and you're on call 24/7."

Flowers is the owner of owner and operator of Flowers Dairy Farms in Ethridge. He is also the president of the American Dairy Association of Tennessee.

Flowers Dairy Farms produces milk and cheese sold across the state.

"We sell to the Titans stadium," said Flowers. "All the suites have our cheese trays and now the new soccer stadium."

His wife Morgan Flowers said demand is on the rise.

"So, we have a Jersey herd here on our farm, and we process the Jersey milk, so it's high in butter-fat content, so it makes really creamy cheese," she said. "It's a good solid product. It also makes a good cream line on the milk."

But lately, the unusual heat has been an utter problem.

"They won't eat as much feed you know, in the hotter temperatures," said Flowers.

The cows are stressed, causing them to produce less milk.

"With the heat, it's about a 10-pound a day difference, which is a little over a gallon a day less is what they'll produce in the heat," he said.

Now Flowers is missing out on about $400 a day in revenue.

"So from a regulatory standpoint, we use our Jersey herd. We also have a Holstein herd, but each heard is producing less milk, so we have less to actually produce food products out of."

For their comfort, the cows are staying cool in an open-air metal pavilion with sprinklers and fans blowing. The ideal temperature for cows is 40 degrees. But in the pavilion, the combination of fans and sprinklers actually keeps it at a cool 60 degrees. It's the best Flowers can do, until Mother Nature cools off.