Avoid summer heat stress on cows

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Shade, airflow and water are all ways to keep your cows cool this summer. Recently an agricultural engineer at Pennsylvania State, John Tyson, discussed ways to accomplish cooling via a University Technology Tuesday webinar. His solution is simple: slow down heat gain or speed up heat loss.

There are different types of heat transfer associated with livestock, for each type Tyson has come up with a remedy. Starting with conduction, something your heifer may experience by just sitting and heat from radiation caused by the sun. An easy way to avoid this is to provide proper shade to her, possibly with the use of a barn, or by shielding her with cloth over the bunk she is eating at.

Another way your cows may be heating up is convection. Convection heat must be counteracted by convection cooling. In order to attain this goal you must focus on two things Tyson says, the temperature of the air around the cow and the speed of that air.

This works by blowing cool air by the cow and actually pushing away the hot air surrounding her body.

A simple way to add more convective cooling is to remove the sidewalls of the barn your cows spend time in during the day. Air inlets are something major Tyson discusses in his webinar explaining that air needs to be at cow level in order to achieve maximum cooling.

Some ranchers believe that like human beings, cows can be cooled by a fine mist, this is not the case. It is possible to make your cows more miserable if there is not also air exchange present. This can create added humidity by trapping a layer of warm air underneath that layer of water on top of the cow’s skin, as the cows hair coat is meant to repel water.

Using Direct Evaporative Cooling is one way to avoid trapped heat. By soaking the cows with more than just a light mist, it is possible to cool them down quicker, as heat is removed when that water dries. It is important to repeat this process four to 12 times an hour depending on the temperature that day.

For more information on Heat Stress Abatement watch the webinar here.



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