mistersThis is the season to start thinking heat abatement strategies as several southern states are already experiencing warmer temperatures and rising humidity. Meanwhile, it's warming up in northern states, and weather predictions say a warmer-than-average summer could be on the way.

What, then, is on your checklist to prepare for cooling cows this summer?

Meggan Hain, DVM, staff veterinarian at Penn Vet's Marshak Dairy at the New Bolton Center, shared these items from her summer heat abatement checklist.
  1. Plenty of water. The average dairy cow drinks an additional 8 gallons of water in hot weather. Hain suggests providing at least 3 inches of drinking space along a pen's water troughs per animal. Emphasize easy access areas for cows such as milking parlor exit lanes and in crossover alleys.
  2. Shade available. Research shows a 10 to 20 percent improvement in milk production in herds that have adequate shade available when compared to herds without shade.
  3. Fans running. They should be 36 to 48 inches wide, 8 feet off the ground, 20 feet apart, and angled 15 to 25 degrees downward. Spring-cleaning may be in order to ensure optimum airflow and efficiency.
  4. Sprinklers over the feed alley. Vital for evaporative cooling in heat stress situations, Hain recommends placing them 8 feet off the ground with a 180-degree spray and 10 pounds per square inch water flow. For annual sprinkler users, now is the time to clean out the lines, check the sprinkler heads, and ensure the flow cannot reach bedding.
  5. Change the diet. Research has shown the rumen's heat production can be limited by reducing the concentrates in the diet and supplementing fats. Don't include fats at a rate greater than 6.5 percent of dry matter, Hain warns.
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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
April 18, 2016
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