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Hot weather can have a devastating impact on dairy cows and beef cattle, reducing productivity and, in extreme cases, resulting in death. So, what can be done to prevent excess heat impacting on your herd?

One of the key flashpoints is the cattle shed. Anyone who has travelled on the London Underground in summer, or attended a sold-out show can vouch for the fact that excess heat in enclosed spaces can leave you exhausted, drained and uncomfortable. The same is true for cows, with high yielding animals feeling the effects of heat sooner.

What is heat stress?
Dairy cows have an optimal thermal temperature of between -13°C and +25°C and a body temperature of between 38.4°C and 39.1°C. Going above this threshold results in the animal feeling stressed and needing to divert energy that could otherwise be directed towards increasing yields to lowering body temperature.

Why is heat stress a threat?
For dairy cows, body temperatures of 42°C and above can prove fatal, and the effects on production can be noted from an atmospheric temperature of just 25°C. As a result, it’s in everyone’s interest that cattle’s exposure to high temperatures is kept to a minimum.

Cattle housing and heat stress
It’s a little-known fact that a dairy cow can produce the equivalent heat of 14 100-watt lightbulbs, so it’s no wonder that when placed in close proximity to one another, the likelihood of heat stress is increased. The best way to avoid this is to ensure effective ventilation in your cow shed.
How to prevent heat stress occurring in your shed
Suitable shed ventilation such as HV Belt Drive Fans are capable of moving large volumes of air with minimal energy consumption. This form of heat stress management can help to remove warm stale air while introducing fresh outside air at a controlled rate.

Although ventilation may help, it is still not able to cool the air lower than the ambient temperature. In this case, we would suggest turning to an Evaporating Cooling System. The solution offered by Hydor introduces very small water droplets into the hot air and as the water evaporates, it rapidly cools the air inside the shed while ensuring it does not dampen any surfaces.

The effects of heat stress on your cattle shed can be significant and with temperatures on the rise it has become a significant concern for UK farmers. However, there is a solution. While cattle sheds have previously been seen as one of the key contributing factors of heat stress, there are now technologies that can not only prevent temperature increases, but to actively reduce the temperature of a herd below ambient levels. Make no mistake, ventilation and cooling is now a key requirement of effective dairy and beef cattle management.