Mitigating Heat Stress on Dairy Farms during Three Phases of Production
MetadataShow full item record
Four studies were conducted in the Texas Panhandle during the summer of 2007 to evaluate methods for cooling cattle in three phases of production (unweaned calves in hutches, weaned heifers on pasture and lactating cows). Unweaned calves (n = 20) housed in polyethylene hutches, covered with reflective aluminum and bubble film insulation, were compared to calves (n = 18) in similar, un-insulated hutches. Mean thermal heat index (THI) for the trial was 71.9 ± 5.5 (SD). Insulation treatment did not affect body weight gain (P > 0.044). Insulation affected interior hutch temperature, calf body temperature, and respiration rate (P < 0.05), indicating insulation may moderate temperature extremes within the hutch. Weaned heifers (n = 55) on pastures with shade were compared to similar heifers (n = 62) in pastures without shade. Mean THI for the trials was 70.8 ± 6.2 (SD). Shade treatment increased body temperature (P = 0.03) and decreased body weight gain. The effect of shade on foraging behavior was dependant on THI. Shade use by heifers was dependant on THI and wind speed. Heifers utilized shade when THI was above 72, especially when wind speed was low. Feed bunk attendance was compared among pens (n = 3) of lactating cows where the feed bunk was equipped with water sprinklers that sprayed the backs of cows and pens (n = 2) without feed bunk sprinklers. Mean THI for the trial was 70.8 ± 5.7 (SD). Feed bunk sprinklers mediated the affect of elevated THI on decreasing bunk attendance, but overall bunk attendance was not different among treatments. Lactating dairy cows, cooled with water sprinklers and fans three times each day in the holding pen prior to milking, were compared with similar cows cooled in the holding pen by fans only. Mean THI for the trial was 69.9 ± 5.3 (SD). Body temperature, milk yield and somatic cell count were not different among treatments. Sprinkled cows had lower milk fat and total protein than control cows. Sprinkling cows in the holding pen when THI is less than 70 may negatively affect milk production.
Carter, Boone H. (2008). Mitigating Heat Stress on Dairy Farms during Three Phases of Production. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from