It’s summer. For humans that means time outdoors, vacations and lower stress. For dairy cows, it’s another story. When temperatures rise above 72 degrees, dairy cows are susceptible to heat stress, especially with full sun and high humidity. As we enter the hottest months of summer, water and shade are critical to reducing heat stress and keeping cows healthy and productive.
Heat stress raises a cow’s body temperature, which leads to less dry matter intake, resulting in weight loss and decreased milk production. The more productive the cow, the higher the risk of heat stress. A study by the University of Florida states, “Heat stress has been shown to reduce milk production by 25% by reducing feed intake and increasing health problems such as mastitis, lameness and reproductive delay.”
Less milk in the tank means less money in your pocket. Calculating just a 15% reduction with a 50-cow herd that averages 2,500 pounds of milk daily, equals a potential daily loss of 375 pounds of milk. Multiply that by 100 days – the average days in a year over 80 degrees – and you take a significant economic hit.
Provide the shade
Providing shade with Shade Haven mobile structures is an economical solution to reduce heat stress and boost productivity. Multiple studies confirm that providing shade for lactating cows increases their dry matter intake, leading to increased milk production.
“In Florida studies, shade alone improved milk productivity by 10% in two consecutive years,” notes another University of Florida IFAS Extension study, titled Feeding and Managing Cows in Warm Weather.
The same study states, “The maintenance needs for a 1,400-lb. cow producing 60 lbs. of milk is about 20% higher when the temperature is 95 degrees F as compared to 68 degrees F. This being true, it is easy to understand the impact of heat stress on high-producing cows in early lactation when energy intake is critical to her performance.”
The University of Wisconsin -Extension estimates Wisconsin dairies lose as much as $200 per cow annually because of heat stress. Dry cows and even calves can benefit from shade, too, with better weight gain, improved immune function and better production once they join the milking herd.
Shade Haven mobile shade structures are available in sizes up to 40 feet wide. They can be easily moved to provide shade where you need it, when you need it, for a stress-free summer for your cows.