Taking the best care of dairy farmer’s second most important investment, their cows, becomes even more important in the summer months when heat stress can severely affect production yield and cow heath.
Cool Cows provides information for dairy farmers and their advisers to keep cows cool and reduce the effects of heat stress.
“Dairy Australia has listened to feedback and Cool Cows has been refreshed and the alert service updated to include more options to personalise where and how often you receive your weather alerts, and can be customised to deliver forecasts for your exact farm location,” said Catherine Phelps, Dairy Australia’s Natural Resource Management Program Manager.
“The effects of heat stress include a drop in milk production, reduced herd fertility and lower milk protein and fat tests. During the 2014 January heat wave the average drop in milk production across Victorian herds was 15% (based on milk tanker volumes) and heat stress can trigger live weight losses and create animal health problems,” she said.
Dairy Australia’s free tailored weather forecast service sends an SMS directly to a farmer’s phone alerting of upcoming hot spells that could impact on the health and well-being of their herd.
“Any dairy farmer in Australia who registers with the service on the Cool Cows website receives site-specific weather forecasts and alerts of hot weather events specifically for their own farm, which they get by inputting longitude and latitude data describing their location,” said Dr Steve Little from Capacity+ Ag Consulting, a company working with Dairy Australia on the system.
Tips to reduce the impact of heat stress on milk production:
- Anticipate high risk weather conditions. These are periods of sustained high daytime temperatures, high overnight temperatures. (Make sure everyone on the farm can recognise the signs of heat stress: cows panting more than 60 breaths per minute, drop in milk production) and what action to take
- Increase access to cool drinking water, particularly at the exit to the dairy – in hot weather cows will drink 200-250 litres per cow per day
- Provide access to shade. The best way to help cows beat heat stress is to shade them from radiant heat
- Adjust milking times to cooler parts of the day
- If you have a sprinkler system – use it. For a sprinkler system to be effective and cost-efficient, without raising the risk of milk quality downgrades, aim to have the sprinklers on for 3 minutes then off for 8 minutes, using a moderate to large water droplet rather than a fine mist
- Provide cows with the highest quality pasture available to graze overnight when they are cooler.
To visit Cool Cows website click here