Keeping cows cooler during the summer

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This article is available in Spanish.

Most animals are comfortable at cooler temperatures, so as soon as the thermometer readings rise, animal owners need to take extra steps to keep animals comfortable and productive. Farms can do the following to help keep dairy cows cooler:

  • Reduce the heat load on the animals by providing shade, especially during the midday and afternoon. Shade is especially critical for high producing dairy animals.
  • Provide easy access to plenty of cool fresh water. Place waterers in the shade and make sure they are working properly. A milking dairy cow could drink a bathtub full (40 gallons) or water or more on a hot day.
  • Air movement is important. To effectively cool a cow, you need a sustained wind of at least 300 to 500 feet per minute (3.5 to 5.5 miles per hour) over much of the animal's body.
  • Sprinkling animals with water is one of the most effective ways to cool animals. A sprinkler system should get animals wet, then shut off the water to allow the air movement caused by the fan to evaporate the water from the animals' skin. The combination of wetting and wind provides the most heat stress relief.

Humans (100-200 lbs) can heat up and cool off fairly quickly compared to a 1,400 pound animal. It can take several nighttime hours for an overheated dairy cow to get her body temperature down to normal. Several days of heat stress can affect feed intake, reproductive performance and production levels, so it’s important to do what we can to keep our animals cool.

Source: El Companero



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