Planning & Management

Whether you want to make small or big changes, these Top 10 short-term and long-term changes to farm infrastructure provides options for heat stress management. 

TOP 10 SHORT TERM actions to consider 

  1. Set up a sprinkler system at the dairy yard. 
  2. Install a large water trough on the exit side of the dairy. 
  3. On hot days, wet the dairy yard for an hour before cows arrive. 
  4. Delay afternoon milking until 5 pm during the hot season.
  5. Sprinkle cows for 30 to 60 minutes while standing in the dairy yard waiting for afternoon milking on hot days or when cows breathing rate exceeds 60 breaths per minute or the temperature heat index (THI) is above 78. 
  6. In hot weather, provide cows with the highest quality pasture available to graze overnight when they are cooler.
  7. Increase your cows grain / concentrate feeding rate, feed high-quality forage fibre and higher-quality protein sources, and increase cows intakes of potassium, sodium and magnesium.
  8. In very hot days, if you don't have a shade shed, bring the milking herd back to the dairy yard around midday and use the sprinkler system to cool cows - if possible give them access to high quality hay or silage.
  9. Mate more heifers to compensate for lower in-calf rates expected in milkers during the hot season to help maintain your desired calving pattern.
  10. Implement a tree planting program starting with trees on the western side of the yard.


top 10 long term actions to consider

  1. Review the whole farm for shade.
  2. Develop a farm plan that incorporates significant tree plantings over time on the northern and western edges of pastures. Plant deciduous trees along laneways.
  3. Fence off tree lines to protect tree roots from cow treading and reduce chances of cows lying down in mud and dung.
  4. Install a shade cloth over the dairy yard to further enhance cow cooling prior to milking.
  5. Install water troughs in all paddocks and along laneways.
  6. Combine shade and sprinklers at the dairy yard with a feed out system for high quality forage / partial mixed ration close by. Ensure cows can move freely between both areas during hot weather.
  7. Build a shade shed with a solid roof set over a feed pad integrated with a PMR feeding system.
  8. Install a sprinkler system set with temperature controls in the shade shed over the feed pad which is integrated with the effluent management system.
  9. Install fans if air movement through the shade shed is inadequate.
  10. Assess the impact of withholding insemination during hot weather on herd profitability.
  • Hot Weather Management

    The first thoughts for adjusting the farm when dealing with a hot weather forecast.

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  • Mating & Heat Stress

    Insight on how heat stress effects heat detection, conception and the consequences on fertility outcomes.

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  • Fats & Protein in Heat Stress

    Adjusting fat and protein intake in dairy herds during hot periods can lower metabolic heat production.

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  • Fiber & Starches in Heat Stress

    Changes to fibre and starch intake and its effect on metabolic heat production & ruminal acidosis. 

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  • Feed Additives for Heat Stress

    A guide to dairy herd feed additives such as essential minerals, rumen modifiers, buffers that can assist with heat stress management.  

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