Yep, it’s a heatwave. Dairy cows hate heatwaves. How much? Take a look at some of these weird facts from Dairy Australia’s Cool Cows website:
- Each of our dairy cows gives off body heat equivalent to a 1500-watt hair dryer on a hot day.
- Cows eat 10-20% less when the air temperature is more than 26°C.
- A cow making more milk is more easily heat stressed.
- Each dairy cow can drink 200-250 litres per day in hot weather – double the normal intake.
- A heat stressed cow makes less milk for one to two days afterwards. If she’s heat stressed for two days in a row, milk production can be affected for a fortnight.
Suffice to say, the weatherman has our attention. Farmer levies fund a Temperature Humidity Index (THI) forecast that gives us a heads-up on just how tough it could be on the cows.
A THI of over 68 has a measurable impact on milk production, not to mention our cows’ wellbeing. As you can see, the forecast has us reaching a THI of 83. Nasty.
We’re onto it. To help keep the cows cool, we milk earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon when the sun is low.
The cows have a paddock with enough shade and water for everyone that’s close to the dairy. We serve up a light meal of silage just beyond the trees, so they can sneak out from the shade, have a nibble and go back where it’s cool for a nap.
The dairy yard is sprinkled with water, giving the cows a welcome shower while they wait to be milked. Inside the dairy, ceiling fans whir above the cows for maximum comfort.
There are three water troughs on the way to the night paddock, which is a juicy crop of emerald-green millet. Better than being at the beach!