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9 Ways to Minimize Heat Stress in the Barn

This year, thousands of record-breaking high temperatures have been reported across the United States and other parts of the world. For dairy farmers, this extreme weather can wreak havoc on their herds. Heat stress can lead to performance and health issues such as reduced DMI intake, reduced milk production, reduced reproductive performance, and increased lameness. However, there are heat stress abatement tools available to help minimize the ill effects of the summer heat. 

  1. Shade: Provided by buildings, trees, etc.
  2. Natural Ventilation: Freestall barns should be designed to allow complete removal of sidewalls and endwalls to promote air exchange. Tie stall barns can utilize sidewall openings only or a combination of sidewall, ridge, or stack openings to provide natural ventilation.
  3. Circulation Fans: Fans improve a cow’s cooling ability by carrying away hot air close to skin. They increase air velocity but do not exchange air
  4. Mechanical Ventilation: System of fans, inlets, and controls helps increase air exchange.
  5. Adequate Drinking Water: Provide enough water to keep up with demand. One bowl per stall provides better access to water and reduces dominance in tie stall barns.
  6. Direct Evaporative Cooling: Sprinklers or spray cooling systems remove heat directly from a cow’s skin. Sprinklers should wet each cow to the skin, allow her time to dry and repeat. 
  7. Indirect Evaporative Cooling: Fogging/misting systems cool the surrounding air, allowing cows to inhale cooler air.
  8. Night Cooling: Continue cooling throughout the night to achieve best results.
  9. Air Conditioning: Lowers temperature and removes moisture. Air exchange is essential to control levels of gases, dust, and other pollutants.
Learn more about these heat abatement tools for freestall and tie stall barns at the Penn State Extension website.
Source: “Hot Weather Management in Freestall & Tie Stall Dairies” Penn State Technology Tuesday Webinar presented by John T. Tyson, P.E.; Dan F. McFarland, M.S.; David R. Wolfgang, VMD, DABVP.
on February 14, 2012.

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