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The threat of heat stress: how to tackle it efficiently - Part 2: Some mooo-ves to protect your animals

After outlining what heat stress is, let’s investigate how to protect animals from it, thanks to our experts’ advice.

In the previous episode, we discovered what thermal stress is, along with an overview on its main causes, symptoms, and consequences. The time has come to browse through some possible solutions which could help farmers to tackle this threat, protecting their animals from high temperatures, preserving animals’ health and milking efficiency. Once again, we will count on some suggestions from our Regional Sales Managers Mitchell Edgmon and David Kerr, from Arizona desert.

  • A good starting point in heat abatement could be ensuring your cows proper shelters and paddocks, with enough shade. Protecting cows from direct solar radiation will help lower their body and rectal temperature, as well as their respiration rate. Trees and awnings would be highly suitable for this purpose, along with choosing their right positioning. To minimize sunlight exposure, we would also suggest placing outside covered feeding areas from East to West. Another important aspect our experts mentioned is keeping pens and beddings dry, protecting cows from humidity and flies. By flying from one animal to another, these would in fact increase the probability of infection spread within the herd.
  • To minimize cows’ exposure to solar radiation, other important actions concern herd and farm management. Along with minimizing handling stress and reducing time in unshaded areas, a possible solution could be milking earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. Furthermore, ensuring the farm has a proper air exchange at least every minute is crucial to remove heat, gases, and pollutants. Building with side and end walls opened, for instance, can help restoring the animals thanks to tunnel and cross ventilation.
  • Nutritional supplementation also represents another ally in beating heat stress. To compensate the reduction in feed intake due to thermal stress, it is necessary to give cows the proper amount of energy through fat and high-quality forages. A supplementary feed at night, when cooler, could be a further help. On the other hand, water intake grows. For this reason, animals can drink up to 6 times a day, especially before and after milking. These moments thus represent important occasions to benefit cows with some fresh water. Hence, Mitchell and David recommend locating watering stations conveniently, to ensure multiple cows’ access and a proper keep up with their demand.

Among the most efficient techniques there are cooling systems, too. These divide up into two types:

  • Direct evaporative cooling, which consists in applying and evaporating water from cows’ skin, for instance through sprinklers, relieving them from heat. This system is especially suitable for humid climates, but it requires both sufficient water supply and a good drainage.
  • Indirect evaporative cooling, which lowers the temperature around cows, increasing their heat transfer rate. Some examples are pressurized IEC, such as fogging, and evaporative pads.

Evaporative cooling systems imply water addition to the animal air space, therefore it is essential to enhance evaporation through ventilation systems, that provide a good air exchange to remove moisture-laden air, and circulation fans. If placed throughout all the barn, as advised by our experts, these facilitate the removal of water from animals’ skin, while carrying heat away from their bodies.


Figure 1 - Figure 1 - A cow restoring thanks to a fan

Heat stress could deeply affect milk yield and herd’s health. Thus, make sure to rely on the insight provided throughout these Blog posts, both on how to recognize possible causes of the threat and its symptoms, as well as on potential moves to make, to protect animals from it. And don’t forget to read our next Blog episode!

milkrite | InterPuls thank Mitchell Edgmon and David Kerr for their support.


  • 5 tips to prevent heat stress in your cows this summer FarmProgress, 05/19

  • Heat stress DairyNZ

  • Heat stress affects every stage of the cow cycle Dairy Global, 08/20

  • Heat Stress and Dairy Cow: Impact on Both Milk Yield and Composition International Journal of Dairy Science, 2017, 12: 1-11

  • Stress da caldo? Proteggiamo anche il loro intestino allevatori TOP, 09/21




Date: 30 September 2021

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