Are you and your cows ready for the summer heat?

David Balbian, Area Dairy Specialist
Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

April 30, 2014

Are You and Your Cows Ready for the Summer Heat?

Summer arrives every year in June and our dairy cattle are always negatively affected by the summer heat and humidity. We have had some warmer weather already, but nothing like we will experience during the midst of summer. Measures to take include:

1) Work with your nutritionist now to develop a plan to modify the diet to account for lower dry matter intake. This may mean increasing the nutrient density of the diet. However, be careful to maintain enough effective fiber in the diet. Consider increasing potassium, sodium, and magnesium levels in the diet, as these minerals can be depleted during excessive heat.

2) Water availability is increasingly important. Double check all your equipment.

3) Air movement: depending on your barn you may use circulating fans or tunnel ventilation. Be sure the system has adequate capacity and is properly designed. Sidewall curtains and ridge vent openings in free stall barns help facilitate air exchange. Call if you need assistance.

4) Shade becomes very valuable. If you are grazing and no shade is available in the pasture it may be beneficial to bring cows in during the hottest times of the day, assuming you have good air movement via fans or tunnel ventilation. Be sure to provide some extra forage in the barn.

5) Sprinklers (in conjunction with fans) can really be beneficial in free stall barns. You need an adequate water supply and you need to be able to handle the extra water added to your manure system. Misters and high pressure foggers have sometimes been used to provide an evaporative cooling effect in the south, but only a small number exist in New York State.




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