One might not realize it now, but this hot, dry summer could cause people to spend more money the next time they go to the grocery store.
That is because the stress on livestock will cause prices to rise on everything from steak to milk.
Cows, and lots of them, fill the barns at the Shatto Milk Company in Osborn, MO. Twice a day, they wait in line to be milked. All that milk is then bottled and then sent to the grocery store for families to enjoy.
But the prolonged heat and triple digit temperatures are already causing chaos to this fragile ecosystem.
"Cows don't like hot weather, and when it gets that hot, they tend to not eat if you don't keep them as cool as you can. When they don't eat, they don't give much milk," said Leroy Shatto, owner Shatto Milk.
So Shatto's goal every single day is to keep them cool so they'll stay hungry. Cows don't sweat, so they struggle to stay cool. Shatto has installed big and small fans inside the barns and sprays water on them 24 hours a day.
"We can't afford air conditioning for these girls, so we do what have to. But it is a losing battle," he said.
His cows are already producing 20 percent less milk then usual.
"It is nice and cool in this building. As long as we keep them eating like that, we're good, but once they stop eating, we're in trouble," he said.
Another problem is the drought-like conditions, which means hay is not growing. Shatto and every other dairy farmer will have to pay more for feed. That, and a smaller milk supply, could mean higher milk prices for consumers.
"Not because we want to, but we've got to stay in business too," Shatto said.
Shatto has had to cut milk supplies to certain grocery stores in the metro because he doesn't have enough milk to satisfy demand.
He says once the temperatures go back down, it will take about a week for the cows to recover and get back to normal milking supplies.
Click here for more information on the Shatto Milk Company.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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