Southern California environment news and trends

Warm milk: Climate change is hard on cows

Kathleen Masterson

A dairy cow peeks out of its stall at Case van Steyn's dairy in Galt, Calif.

With America in the grips of a sweltering heat wave that’s vying to make this season the hottest summer on record, a new study by scientists at the University of Washington reveals that soaring temperatures are just as hard on our bovine friends as humans.

According to the University press release, increasing climate change and higher temperatures has the potential of reducing milk production across America, particularly in Southeastern states like Florida.

Lead researcher Yoram Bauman and his team analyzed climate data in comparison to dairy industry data down to the county level. They mapped out the results through the year 2080 to get their findings.

"Using U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, if you look at milk production in the Southeast versus the Northwest, it's very different," said researcher Guillaume Mauger in a statement. "It's reasonable to assume that some of that is due to the inhospitable environment for cows in the Southeast."

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Happy cows: Chipotle to use dairy products from outdoor cattle

cows milk

Photo by matt northam via Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this year, popular chain restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill made a splash in media, music and environmental circles with “Back to Start,” a 2-minute short animated film promoting sustainable farming featuring Willie Nelson performing a cover of Coldplay song, “The Scientist.” After being showcased during the televised broadcast of the Grammy Awards in February, the clip went on to win the top award at the 2012 International ANDY Awards, a prestigious advertising recognition.

Continuing on that path towards more sustainable corporate practices, Chipotle announced this week a commitment to use dairy products made from the milk of pasture-raised dairy cows. Starting this month, 100 percent of the sour cream served in Chipotle restaurants will come from such pasture-raised cattle, which will be fed vegetarian, plant-based diets and never be given antibiotics or hormones, including recombinant bovine growth hormone. 65 percent of Chipotle’s cheese will meet the same standards.

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