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Livestock, Poultry And Crops Stressed By Heat And Drought

13 August 2007

US - Blistering heat is just the latest challenge for farmers, who have been hosing down cows to keep them cool, blowing fans on poultry and hoping for rain to revive crops parched by drought.

Temperatures soar for poultry.

The power bill has been about $9,000 a month at Ben Shelton's dairy farm in Iredell County, where sprinklers spray the 1,100 cows if the temperature gets too high and fans blow air on the 1,500-pound Holsteins. The cattle also drink about 40 gallons of water a day, each.

Shelton said only one of his cows has died from the heat, although several lost calves. They have to be kept cool to maintain milk production, which already has been cut 8 percent. The cows fill a 6,000-gallon tanker in 14 hours instead of 12 because heat has cut their output.

"This kind of weather is very costly," said Shelton.

Another dairy farmer in Iredell County has brought in hay from the Midwest to feed his cattle because local hay is hard to find.

Farmers across North Carolina are working to protect their livestock in the heat wave that abated a bit on Saturday, dropping from the high 90s and low 100s to mid-80s.

Heat isn't the only problem. Trouble started for farmers with the Easter freeze that killed some buds. The spring was dry instead of rainy and drought persists in most of the state.

Livestock, dairy and poultry are big business, about two-thirds of the state's $8 billion in farm sales.

Farmers say they might lose up to a half of their corn, soybeans and hay and tobacco and cotton could be hurt.

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Source: The News&Observer



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