Hurricane Irma hit South Florida on September 11, 2017. Irma brought storm-surge flooding, tornadoes, and forceful wind gusts across the state.
Burnham Dairy in Okeechobee, FL was directly in Irma’s path. Despite 130 mph winds, the farm suffered no major damage outside of a power outage. Burnham’s monitoring system kept recording data through an onsite server even though the farm was cut off from internet service for six days.
So, we took a look at how the cows were handling this stressful situation.
Clearly the cows were not comfortable. In the graph above, we can see that the cows did not ruminate throughout the storm. Looking at the dairy’s group rumination graphs, each and every group of cows were ruminating at just over half the time they normally do.
As the power outage hit the dairy, the fans in the pens stopped working and the cows began panting as the heat stress started affecting them.
It’s interesting that during the storm the cows did not drastically change their activity levels. Initially, the cows were calm and lying down in their stalls showing below average activity levels. It was only later, as a milking shift was missed due to the storm, that the cows began getting restless and very active.
This is evident from cow number 0420’s activity and rumination graph.
Knowing how cows feel and react is very cool not just in times of crisis, this is information that helps the herd’s caretakers take better care of the cows.
Thankfully, Burnham Dairy survived Hurricane Irma with minimal damage and disruption. We wish them well.