In a move to give their livestock a respite from the hottest July in more than a decade, Italian farmers are now installing air conditioning and showers in their cowsheds and pigsties, an agricultural group announced.
According to Reuters, Italian farm animals, especially those in the country’s agricultural heartland around the Po river near Milan, are showing signs of stress in the heat, which has reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
“The situation is worrying, particularly in the Po Valley which has the highest concentration of barns that have been kitted out with fans, small showers and air conditioners to cool down cows and pigs,” Coldiretti, an Italian farming association, said.
In the first 15 days of July, Italian cows gave 50 million liters less milk than normal. Meanwhile, the country’s chickens laid between 5-10% fewer eggs. Pigs are also suffering from the heat — Coldiretti explained that the animals will lose their appetites when the temperature rises above 28 degrees Celsius and will eat up to 40% less than usual.
In addition to supplying their animals with air conditioning and access to cool showers, some farmers are supplying as much as 140 liters of water per day to their animals; in cooler weather, they usually get around 70 liters per day.
While these animals likely don’t realize it, they’ll be enjoying a luxury that very few Italian humans have. In Italy, just 7% of homes have air conditioning, as Italians tend to believe that it’s bad for the body to switch between hot and cold temperatures so rapidly.
Even in the U.S., air conditioning is hardly a universal luxury for everyone. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has reported that just 89% of the country’s single-family homes have air conditioning installed; the percentage of multi-family homes and apartments with air conditioning is even lower.
Still, supplying farm animals with air conditioning is a necessary measure when so many people rely on these animals for their milk, eggs and meat. And with temperatures in Italy only expected to get hotter in the coming weeks, this air conditioning is coming at just the right time.