Small Steps to Help Cows Stay Cool Next Summer

Small Steps to Help Cows Stay Cool Next Summer

28 January 2021

Although this summer is nearing its end, DairyNZ Animal Care Developer Jacqueline McGowan says now is the time to check how your cows have coped and kick start projects that will keep your cows cool next summer.

Take a moment to check in with your team. Ask them what they think could be improved for next summer, both for the comfort of the team and your cows. On my farm, we have switched to once-a-day milking. We give the girls access to our shadiest paddocks during the day and have recently started including zinc in meal, so they aren’t put off drinking the water.

However, every summer I watch our water system struggle to keep up with the herd on the hottest days and wish we’d installed some extra troughs when we had time during autumn and winter. The farming cycle inevitably takes over, and adding troughs never makes it onto our winter priority list.

I’ve talked to lots of farmers who have the same intent but never quite get around to doing things. Our brains subconsciously prioritise the things that feel most

important, urgent, or rewarding at a particular time. Similar to the RAM of a computer, our brains let unimportant things go to allow for capacity to handle the ‘important’ things.

For our water system, this means once the weather cools, the issue fades in importance and prominence. My brain lets it fall out of my working memory. We need to stop letting these jobs fall off the priority list; put them in the calendar, create a reminder, or book them in with someone who will do the work. Even better, take the first step and get started now.

My first step is to decide where in the race the trough should go and then buy the trough. Having it on the farm will prompt me to continue the work as we enter the autumn and winter months.

If you’re interested in altering your summer milking times or installing sprinklers, your first step might be checking out another farmer’s system or calling a supplier. Or, if you’re starting a long-term shade plan, your first step might be contacting someone for advice, such as your dairy company.

For more information visit www.dairynz.co.nz/heatstress

Article supplied by Dairy NZ.