Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle
While many people can’t wait for the temperature to warm up after a long winter, dairy cows typically do not share the same sentiment. Dairy cattle are actually most comfortable between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. During the warmer months, the combination of increasing temperature and high relative humidity that we see here in the Midwest can cause many heat stress related problems for cows. Some of these problems include:
- Decreased feed intakes
- Decrease milk production
- Decrease milk fat production
- Early calving and smaller calves
- Fewer pregnancies
- Compromised immune systems
- Possibly death
Over the years, a lot of research has been done to help dairy producers determine the best ways to cool their cows and prevent the problems listed above. One of the best ways to cool cows is through the use of evaporative cooling. Think about the last time you went swimming on a warm breezy day. Even though the temperature outside might have been 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more, when you got out of the pool you were probably cold. That is because of evaporative cooling.
Since cows do not sweat like humans, many dairy farms today use sprinklers and fans to help cool their cows. On hot days, fans alone may feel good to us (because we sweat), however cows typically need access to both sprinklers and fans to help them maintain their proper body temperatures.
For more information, contact your local Landmark dairy nutritionist.