July 23 2012 06:48 AM

A study in Israel suggests that more frequent, intensive cooling sessions keeps milk production up

It's hard to watch milk production drop during extended periods of high temperature. As you try to stay hydrated and cool while working outside during hot and humid temperatures, you must work even harder to keep your cows comfortable. However, there is some concern that extra cooling sessions with sprinklers and fans will elevate use of water, electricity and labor while limiting lying and rumination times.

A study conducted at the Institute of Animal Science in Israel indicated that more frequent cooling sessions with fans and sprinklers boost intake, milk yield and rumination time. The findings of the study were published in the July 2012 Journal of Dairy Science.

This study involved 42 Holsteins divided into two treatment groups and housed in an open barn. Each group was subjected to a different cooling schedule. The cows were moved to the holding area of the milking parlor for 45-minute cooling sessions that alternated between 30 seconds of showering and 4.5 minutes of ventilation without showering. One group received this cooling treatment five times per day, while the other group received treatment eight times per day.

At the end of the four-week study, the results indicated that cooling cows more frequently improved comfort. As a result, cows spent more time lying down than those with fewer cooling sessions. In addition, the eight cooling session cows produced on average 7.7 pounds per day more milk than the five-cooling-session cows. Dry matter intake was 9.3 percent higher and milk yield was 9.6 percent higher for the cows that received eight-cooling-sessions.

So, keep in mind during extreme hot and humid temperatures, it may be worth investing the time, labor and electricity to provide more frequent cooling sessions for your herd.