The Dairy Animal Care and Quality Assurance (DACQA) certification program recognizes that providing excellent care for dairy cattle includes taking steps to limit heat stress during periods of high heat and humidity. The DACQA guidelines recommend the following:

  • Provide adequate water with sufficient access to it. Water requirements increase during periods of heat stress.
  • If possible, avoid handling cattle when the risk of heat stress is high. The final decision must consider temperature, humidity and wind speed, as well as the animal’s phenotype and acclimation. If cattle must be handled in hot weather conditions, a general rule is to handle them before the Temperature Humidity Index (THI) reaches 84, if possible. As an example, when the temperature is 98 degrees F and the humidity is 30 percent, the THI is 83. At a constant temperature, the THI increases as the relative humidity increases. Each one mile per hour increase in wind speed decreases the THI by approximately one.
  • Handle cattle more prone to heat stress first, earlier in the day or later as conditions moderate. For example, fresh cows or sick cattle should be handled during lower stress times of the day.
  • Limit the time cattle spend in milking and holding facilities where the heat stress potential may be more significant.
  • Heat management tools, such as shades, fans and sprinklers, should be considered if sufficient natural shade or cooling is not available.

DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices, which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products that are harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.