Measures in herd management and feeding

Dairy farmers can do a lot to make life easier for their cows during heat waves. Herd management measures include, for example, ensuring that the cows are moved in the morning or in the evening. Overcrowding must be avoided at all costs. When grazing, sufficient shade is necessary. Water must be sufficiently available and easily accessible for all cows. (...) The reduced feed intake due to heat can be countered with a higher energy density in the ration (...). However, a balanced ratio of basic feed to concentrated feed must be ensured so that rumen acidity does not occur. (…)

Structural measures

Open side walls facilitate the exchange of air in the barn and reduce heat stress for the cows in summer. (...) Fans for better air movement and for the removal of harmful gases are also required in open stables. When planning new buildings, a lot can be done to improve the climate in the stable: If possible, place the building at right angles to the main wind direction, provide an open stable shell with curtains, avoid a concrete base of more than 50 cm, as this acts as a windbreaker.

Create more air movement

Open gates, an open ridge and open side walls or a perforated plate on the gables provide more air movement in hot weather. Sensor-controlled blind ventilation or automatically regulated curtains can also provide cooling of the air. (…)

If the fans are mounted at a height of 2.70 m, protective grilles are not necessary, thus increasing the efficiency. (...) A particularly strong heat development always occurs where the cows stand crowded and/or waste heat from machines is generated, such as in the waiting area in front of the milking parlour or milking carousel, at the milking robot or at the feeding table in the feeding area. Here, the most important thing is to ensure sufficient air exchange.

Think especially of the roof when building a barn

There are also possibilities of thermoregulation for the roof (...). For example, a light roof covering reduces the radiant heat. Sandwich elements have an insulating and regulating effect on the stable climate, and shading by a photovoltaic system also reduces the heat. No light panels should be used on the south side or in the resting area; these heat up the climate in the stable additionally, just like a light ridge in strong sunlight. (…)

Water cooling, where it makes sense

If fans are no longer sufficient, water mist should cool the cows. In high-pressure fogging, water is atomized very finely.

Cooling of the animals with water should only take place from 24 °C stable temperature onwards. (...)It is important that the humid air has enough time to evaporate and that the cows are not permanently in a humid draught, otherwise they can get pneumonia. If the air circulation is insufficient, the well-intentioned humidification can also be reversed, resulting in a tropical climate with a relative humidity of well over 70 percent. Commonly used water cooling systems are, for example, interval showers, spray humidification or misting fans, which are used for example in the waiting area in front of the milking parlor. (…)