Shade is the most important consideration for reduction of heat stress. Sprinklers and fans are able to improve heat load reduction further. 

It is worth considering how these can be integrated into existing infrastructure.

The main options for shade, sprinklers and fans are explained in the following guides. These guides balance the factors that should be considered when investing in cooling infrastructure. The right combination of cooling methods based on how the farm operates is the key to reducing heat stress.  

Herd condition considerations 

  • Your herd’s susceptibility to heat stress – low / moderate / high – based on location, breed, milk production level and age profile of herd.
  • Walking distances for cows between paddocks and the dairy, and between the dairy and the feedpad (if you have one).


existing infrastructure

  • The amount of tree shade already present in the paddocks and laneways.
  • Whether you are willing to wait long enough for shade trees to grow.
  • Whether it is feasible to provide adequate tree shade in paddocks to all your cows each day.
  • What irrigation infrastructure and water is available.
  • Whether there is a shady loafing paddock available near the dairy.

The design considerations provide information about the construction, maintenance and daily operation of cooling systems; whether they are shade sails, fans or sprinklers. 

feeding system

  • What feeding infrastructure and equipment is currently available? Is the feedpad surface concrete?
  • Which feeding system is used? A hybrid system or a TMR system? Does the herd graze over summer?  


daily schedule

  • How many hours do the cows spend in the dairy yard before each milking?
  • How many times a day do you milk?

For each option its strengths and limitations are listed and the keys to success are described.

These guides support decision-making around the best placement of resources, time and effort into improving infrastructure in paddocks and lane ways, the dairy yard and feedpads.


  • Soft-roof Shade Structures

    Compare the benefits and limitations of soft-roofed shade structure in heat stress management

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  • Feedpad Shade Structures

    Examines the role of shade structures over feedpads to reduce heat loads in dairy herds.

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  • Compost bedded pack structures

    Compare the benefits and limitations of providing shade over a compost bedded pack.

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  • Portable shade structures

    Compare the benefits and limitations of portable shade structures as a cost-effective shade infrastructure option.

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  • Trees for shade

    A guide for positioning natural shade using trees with a list of useful local resources and contacts.

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  • Sprinklers & Fans

    A combined fan and sprinkler system can be an effective method of heat stress management in Australian dairy herds.

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  • Paddock sprinklers

    Paddock sprays and sprinklers wet the cow’s hair and skin in low humidity conditions and provide evaporative cooling.

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  • Water supply and access

    Changes to farm infrastructure may be appropriate for the improvement of water security or boost water efficiency.

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  • Stock water supply

    Water quality tips and effects on stock water supply and heat stress management.

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