Shade and water critical during heat waves

Dairy farmers should be, and are, vigilant during these days of hot weather.

Strategic shade belts, portable canopies and sprinklers for evaporative cooling are some of the steps that dairy enterprises use to protect their valuable livestock during these current periods of record summer heat.

This was the reassuring message this weekend from the CEO of advocacy group Dairy Connect Shaughn Morgan.

“Dairy Australia introduced its ‘Cool Cows’ program in 2008 to help producers better deal with rising summer temperatures, and many producers have adopted some or most stragies to help cows,” Shaughn said.

“Heat stress not only affects animal well being, but will affect milk production and income, at times lasting well beyond seasonal hot weather,” he said.

“If producers want to keep their cows cool, they should start by creating shade. Shade is particularly effective over the holding areas near the milking parlour.” The effects of shade can be enhanced by judicious use of water sprays to cool cows and the concrete areas.

“Irrigators and sprinkler systems have great value in creating evaporative cooling for livestock, both in the paddock and around the shed.”

“Irrigators and sprinklers wet the cow’s hair and skin. As this water evaporates, heat is off-loaded from the cow into the surrounding air. The rate of evaporation increases with air movement.

Other steps that can help cattle include feeding more of their diet of an evening and provision of sodium bicarbonate in the feed. Shifting milking times may also help to avoid the extreme heat.

“Farmers with heat stressed cows should contact their veterinary and nutritional advisors.”

For the up-to-date handbook on dairy cattle and heat wave management, please go to: