08/11/2020

The Effects of Hot Weather on Dairy Cows

 As a dairy farmer, your livelihood depends on milk production, so it’s important to keep your cows cool and comfortable. Heat stress in dairy cows is a big concern, especially in the summer months. In fact, if not properly addressed, it can be a huge liability to your farm.

High-yielding dairy cows produce tremendous amounts of body heat, which can be helpful in cooler months, but can be harmful in warmer ones. The heat index, or “real feel” temperature, is a combination of temperature and humidity, and when that reaches 70°F, dairy cows can experience heat stress.

Humans are able to regulate their body temperature by sweating, but cows don’t sweat the same way that humans do. Instead, when they get heat stressed, they begin to pant to expel excess heat from their body through their snouts.

When dairy cows get heat-stressed they will drink less water, stand up, and reduce their food intake – all of which negatively impact their milk production. When the cool weather finally comes back and the cows cool off, that doesn’t mean their milk production will bounce back to where it was before they were stressed. It could take weeks or even months.

So, what can you do? J&D recommends utilizing ventilation and other cooling techniques like fogging or soaking with your ventilation to keep cows cool. Keeping your cows cool and comfortable will lead to higher milk production and can decrease the chances of lower milk fat content, impaired reproductive performance, and a higher susceptibility to health problems.

Looking for additional resources? Sign up for our newsletter or contact us for help.