Tips for Keeping Dairy Cows Cool

Rarely when one pours a glass of milk in the morning do they think about the dairy farmers and the cows that produce the milk.  However, today let’s take a look at one of the challenges that face the dairy farmer when trying to get the milk to your refrigerator.

One of the challenges that diary farmers face is keeping the cows cool in the warmer seasons of the year. Dairy cows experience heat stress at a lower temperature than people.  The ideal ambient temperature for a dairy cow is between 44 degrees Fahrenheit  and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

What happens to a dairy cow who is experiencing heat stress?  Cows have an increased respiration rate. They eat less dry materials (essential in the production of milk.) They have increased water intake, sweating, slower digestion rate in the cows, slower blood flow to the internal organs, poor reproduction rates and lower milk production.  It is easy to see that dairy farmers face an issue with hot weather.

For large commercial dairy farms, there are some big cooling systems that work well to reduce heat stress. A good example of a company that has designed a system to keep things cool and be efficient is Koolfog misting systems.  Obviously , small dairy farms don’t have the luxury of large cooling systems.

~ Make sure the cows have enough water for drinking.
The average lactating  dairy cow requires between  35 to 45 gallons of water per day. Water needs to be available and accessible so overcrowding does not take place when dairy cows are trying to drink.

~ Solid shade
It is important that cows who are housed outdoors in pastures or dry lot are provided with solid shade. The goal is to provide 38 to 48 square feet of solid shade per mature cow.  Typically these shades will be made of steel or aluminum. Ideally they would be about 14 feet high with a north – south orientation.  This orientation helps to prevent water build up.

~ Holding areas
It is important that holding areas are kept shaded or cooled. It is equally important that they remain uncrowded. Too many cows, too close together creates large amounts of heat and stress.

~ Fans, misters, tunnel cooling
As time and money allow all these types of machinery are good tools to help cool the dairy cows.  Once machinery is place it is imperative that it be cleaned on a regular basis to keep it running correctly and reduce the risk of spreading bacteria.

A wise dairy farmer once said, if you are comfortable with the temperature, give the cows some shade. They’ll be needing it.