STORRS, Connecticut — As temperatures are expected to surpass the 90s across Connecticut this week, farmers have to work even harder to keep farm animals, crops, and themselves safe from these hot conditions.
The conditions call for special heat protocols at the farms, especially since we are officially in a heat wave.
"Fans, misters, clean fresh bedding, plenty of freshwater and fresh feed," said Mary Margaret Smith, Executive Program Director of Farm Units for UConn. "For beef cattle and sheep, we provide them with both natural and artificial shade."
At Horsebarn Hill at UConn, Smith and the farm staff make sure the cows and sheep are beating the heat.
"The most important thing for the animals is if the temperature drops below 70 degrees at night, they have a chance to recover overnight a little bit, just like we do when we go home to the air conditioning," said Smith.
The barns can get around 80 degrees in these hot conditions.
Staff work around the clock to monitor all animals to make sure they're not showing signs of heat stress, which can include panting and in cows, decreased milk production.
"Everybody is allowed to take whatever they need for breaks to avoid heat exhaustion and plenty of drinks, everybody always has a drink with them," said Smith.
Just down the road at Shundahai Farm, farm manager Daniel Goldstein’s job gets even harder as the sun keeps beating down.
"The biggest thing is keeping the foods irrigated and staying on top of the management," said Goldstein.
He says when conditions are this hot, the crops need even more attention.
"Especially in these greenhouses they use a ton of water. It’s so hot but we do a lot of mulching to keep the ground covered," said Goldstein.
The tomatoes and lettuce are especially vulnerable to the scorching conditions, but with extra water and care, they'll be just fine.
Like the crops Goldstein cares for, keeping himself safe is muscle memory.
"I’m usually wearing a wide brim hat which usually helps keep the sun off my head. I find the biggest thing for me personally is to keep the sun off my skin, that’s why I’m wearing my long sleeves and pants," said Goldstein.
While most people are at the pool or in the AC, these farmers are business as usual, keeping our community fed, regardless of the weather.
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