Heat-stressed cows spend more time standing

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A new study by researchers at the University of Arizona and Northwest Missouri State University shows that standing and lying behavior can predict heat stress in cows.

In a presentation this week at the 2013 ADSA Midwest Branch/ASAS Midwestern Section Meeting, the University of Arizona’s Jamison Allen said cows prefer standing to lying on hot days. Cows stand to allow more of their surface area to disperse heat into the air. Allen and his colleagues were curious to see if standing behavior could be used to predict core body temperature.

After comparing data from cows in Arizona, California and Minnesota, the researchers concluded that standing behavior and core body temperature are strongly correlated. Allen said cows stood for longer bouts of time as their core body temperatures rose from 101 degrees Fahrenheit to above 102 degrees.

“We can predict the animal’s behavior to stand according to their core temperature,” Allen said.

According to Allen, dairy producers could use standing behavior to improve well-being and efficiency in their herds. He said producers could use coolers and misters to target a specific core body temperature. By encouraging cows to lie down, producers will also help their cows conserve energy.



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