Cow heat stress

36 degrees and it’s getting hotter – avoid heat stress in cows.

The first heat wave may be over but the summer has just begun. For cows, these high temperatures mean massive stress. They can only partly release body heat through their skin, and standing up or panting hardly makes them any cooler. The opposite in fact: Because of its movements the cow chews less cud and eats less. At the same time it loses more saliva and with it the buffer substance that is needed for its rumen. Minerals are also lost because they are excreted through sweat.

One of the first consequences of the heat is degradation of milk components and milk yield as well as an increase in cell numbers (see figure). Mid- to long-term consequences include subclinical acidosis, abomasum, premature death, and missed pregnancies.

In order to prevent heat stress we recommend following the tips listed below.

Cow heat stress
Milk Statistics

Some tips:

  • Place the thermometer and the hygrometer where the cows spend time
  • Test that the fans are working properly and turn them on beforehand
  • Move the cows as early in the morning or as late in the evening as possible
  • Avoid unnecessary agitation
  • Ensure a water supply: enough clean water with sufficient flow rate (>30 l/min for a trough)
  • Feed more often than usual, possibly several times a day
  • Increase the energy content of the feed
  • Ensure stability of the feed