'Air-conditioned' cows more productive [p. 5]

It is not only schoolchildren who demand comfortable temperatures to function properly: Israeli cows whose genetic origin is European suffer in the Israeli heat, but have been found to produce more offspring and milk if their accommodations are cooled. A national program for cooling cow sheds with large fans and water sprinklers that produce artificial rain has proved successful, Dr. Yisrael Flemenbaum, head of the animal branch in the Agriculture Ministry's training service, said Monday. Cows in air-conditioned conditions produce 10 percent more milk, which means tens of millions more liters, he said. Contrary to reduced pregnancies and births in summer despite artificial insemination, there have been more of them among cows in cooled accommodations, he added. Dairy cows usually produce 20% less milk during the summer months, and this causes difficulties in the milk supply and dairy industry. Turning excess milk in the winter into powdered milk and preserving it for use during the summer months is expensive and raises the price to the consumer. But now, the aim of equalizing milk production and pregnancies in the summer with those of the winner can be achieved, said Flemenbaum, who launched the cooling program with the Cow Breeders Association. Israeli cows, which even before the program have been credited as being the highest milk producers in the world, are arousing interest among professionals in the US and Europe. Experts are currently arriving from abroad to study the cooling project, he said.