Keep Your Cattle Cool

In this heat wave, we know you’re worried about your livestock – and luckily there are resources for you to go to to help keep your animals safe and productive.

Extension specialist and UW Prof. Jennifer Van Os says if you think it’s hot outside, it’s definitely too warm for your dairy cattle. She says a 68 on the Temperature Humidity Index is too much heat for cattle — this equates to a 70-degree day at 65 percent humidity.

While it seems like summer is too short here in Wisconsin, heat stress in dairy cows is actually a risk for half of the year. She says you can determine THI here: https://dairy.extension.wisc.edu/articles/animal-handling-during-heat-stress/

Van Os says milk production problems happen late in an animal’s heat stress. There’s earlier signs of heat stress, and farmers can intervene before milk production drops. This includes increased sweating, panting, standing and looking for shade.

She notes heat stress can lead to short-term implications, such as lower feed intake, or long-term complications, such as poor reproductive health or even death.

The first line of defense against the temperature and humidity is limiting sun exposure with shade. Another best practice is making sure the cows have adequately fast air moving over them. And the third strategy is soaking the cows with water.

Learn more about farm infrastructure for cattle health: https://thedairylandinitiative.vetmed.wisc.edu/