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Milk shortage as cows stress out in heatwave

Rare commodity: there is a shortage of fresh milk on the island (File photograph)

The present spell of hot weather has hit the island’s cows hard.

Scorching temperatures throughout August have left Bermuda’s dairy herds struggling to produce their regular yields of fresh milk.

Cartons of Dunkley’s blue carton, fresh, full-fat milk – normally readily available on any supermarket shelf across the island throughout the year – are suddenly in short supply.

Yesterday,The Royal Gazette caught up with shoppers desperate to grab the last of what seemed like a dwindling supply.

“I have three young children – what else am I expected to do?” asked one young mother as she cleared the shelf of its last two containers.

It is not a problem unique to Bermuda. Cows around the world can suffer from “heat imbalance” during times of warm weather. The resulting stress leads to a lack of appetite and general malaise — and a significant drop in milk production.

Michael Dunkley, the chief executive of Dunkley’s Dairy, expressed his concern over the issue — but added that steps were being taken to prevent shortages in the future.

Mr Dunkley said: “Dunkley's is the processor of milk and not the producer of milk and thus we have little control on supply.

“However, we are aware of the challenges a farmer will face during the very hot and humid summer months. This can result in shortages of product due to the stress of climate conditions on cows.

“In addition, if producing cows are dried off as is required, the supply can be further reduced.

“Both of these conditions are short-term and supply will rebound. We thank consumers for their understanding."

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Published August 19, 2023 at 7:28 am (Updated August 19, 2023 at 7:03 am)

Milk shortage as cows stress out in heatwave

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