Agriculture Victoria is reminding farmers to keep their animals, particularly cows, cool this summer as the weather warms up.
Severe heat can lead to stressed cows, decreased milk production, reduced feed intake, potential loss of body condition, mastitis, potential to not conceive or to abort, and many other animal health related symptoms.
The Cool Cows program developed by Dairy Australia offers a variety of resources, guiding you to areas of your farm that can benefit from some simple immediate actions.
Some strategies for keeping cows cool include:
- Getting cows milked and fed before 10am in the morning, and delaying afternoon milking time to after 5pm
- Changing your paddock rotation
- Keeping cows on a sacrifice paddock or cool stand-off area
- Sprinklers that can operate on a 15-minute cycle where the system is on for one to three minutes and then remains turned off until the commencement of the next cycle. (This allows enough time for cows to be wet to the point that excess water does not drip down the udders, as it is important to not increase the risk of mastitis. You also don’t want extra water contributing to the effluent stream.)
- Hose down the collecting yard before bringing cows in
- Utilise fans and ventilation systems in the dairy
- Provide a diet that combines high-quality fibre with increased energy and a high rate of buffers
- Long term: installing water troughs, shade cloth over the dairy yard and a roof over the feed pad, depending on the farm’s feeding system.
- For the even longer term: you could plant trees across the farm to provide shade, but ensure you do this as part of your whole-farm plan.