8 Tips to Reduce Heat Stress in Cows


Cold milk is refreshing in the summertime, but the heat and humidity can be dangerous for dairy cows, threatening their health and lowering their milk production, said Dr. Meggan Hain, Staff Veterinarian at Penn Vet’s Marshak Dairy at New Bolton Center.

  1. Plenty of 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.
  2. Shade: Provided by barn, trees, etc. Shade reduces solar heat gain for cows on pasture. Studies have shown a 10-20% increase in milk production for cows offered shade in pasture verses those without access to shade.
  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. 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.
  5. Indirect Evaporative Cooling: Fogging/misting systems cool the surrounding air, allowing cows to inhale cooler air.
  6. Night Cooling: Continue cooling throughout the night to achieve best results.
  7. Air Conditioning: Lowers temperature and removes moisture. Air exchange is essential to control levels of gases, dust, and other pollutants.
  8. Perform Activities in the Morning: Stressful activities such as dehorning, pen moves, vaccinations, or transportation, can be completed when the temperature is lower and the sun isn’t out yet. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, the care and management of calves and heifers should be a high priority during the summer months.


Shepard, Louisa. “Ten Hot-Weather Tips to Keep Dairy Cows Healthy This Summer from New Bolton CenterPenn Vet.

“Heat Stress in Dairy Calves” PennState Extension.

Hibmayelena Tischenko, John. “How to Manage Heat Stress in Dairy CowsFarming Magazine. 


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