Researchers with the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, N.Y., are reminding dairy farms that adding sprinkler systems and fans over stalls and feed areas can reduce the negative impact of heat stress on dairy cows, add to cow comfort and well-being, and contribute to farm profitability.
“As expected, summer heat can adversely impact cow comfort and milk production to varying degrees. We encourage farmers to work with agricultural educators to determine what measures can be taken to match the appropriate heat abatement systems to individual farm facilities,” noted Miner Institute Director of Research Katie Ballard.
With funding from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) in 2015, Miner Institute staff began evaluating the factors, including the type of heat abatement system a farm uses, that influence the severity of the impact of heat stress on dairy cows.
The NNYADP-funded research continues this summer with the focus broadened to include heat stress impact on cow comfort in terms of body temperature and rumen health. Miner Institute is currently pursuing what is believed to be the first research into how rumen health is impacted during times of high heat. The research includes monitoring rumen pH. Additionally, body temperature, activity level, and drinking behavior are being tracked to assess the direct impact of heat events on the cows.
The researchers work with the dairy herd at Miner Institute and on four participating northern NY farms has provided insight into how different housing systems and heat abatement measures can increase cow comfort and protect milk and milk component production. The research settings have included a tiestall, 4-row and 6-row freestall barns, and a converted tiestall barn, and different bedding types.
Results from this work have been reported at American Dairy Science Association meetings and submitted for future presentation to illustrate the scope of the research across trials in multiple years on consistently participating farms.
The annual reports are posted under the Dairy tab on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org. The NNYADP has also funded research evaluating how to reduce cold and warm season climate stress on dairy calves.
Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture.