During winter it can be hard to imagine it ever being warm again. But summer will be here before you know it, and an effective cooling system for your cows is a priority. Heat stress in cows can cause issues in health, reproduction and milk quantity and quality. Dairy cows need to maintain a core body temperature between 38.6 and 39.3 degrees. One lactating cow at 1600 pounds produces enough heat to generate the power of sixteen 100 watt light bulbs!
Cows use evaporative cooling to cool themselves down. Because they have a limited ability to sweat, they rely on the heat exchange of their environment. When the air temperature is higher than the core body temperature, the heat is absorbed, but when it’s lower, the cow can offload the heat and begin to cool down. When air temperatures rise above 26 degrees, feed intake can be reduced by 10-20%, the core body temperature rises and blood flow to the gut, uterus and other internal organs is decreased.
The design of your cooling system is very important, as it needs to take into consideration humidity levels, direction of air flow, location of the cooling unit and where your cows spend their time.
What are the options?
High pressure Fog (HPF)
The High Pressure Fog or HPF system creates fine water droplets that easily evaporate, cooling the cows but keeping bedding and surrounding areas dry which reduces infection and disease. It can be highly efficient with water and electricity, and can be installed where cows spend most of their time. A HPF system also utilises humidity, as tests have shown that when humidity is measured at 50%, the overall temperature can drop by 16 degrees. The unit can then have an option of automatically turning on when a certain humidity or temperature is reached.
While this system can be more expensive, a benefit of HPF is that it is a central delivery system which provides greater control. The unit can be installed over the holding pen and used to target the cows instead of their surroundings, reducing waste.
A Soaker system is used by sprinkling the cow’s for 30 seconds to three minutes and then allowing the water to evaporate off their hide with the use of cooling fans. It can be installed over the holding pen, while this is a generally cheaper option, there are some disadvantages. Due to operating at a higher water pressure, the sprinklers will require more regular maintenance. Water may build up, trapping a layer of air between water and skin which can increase the cow’s core body heat. Water runoff will also add to the slurry, and will need to be considered in your effluent management.
Whatever option you choose, ventilation is a constant for peak efficiency. There are numerous types of fans that can be used, with placement, angle and size all important factors to consider.
How to choose?
When picking a cooling system you should take into consideration the average temperature and humidity of your farm, its size and your budget. Eagle Direct provides a consultation to determine what suits you and your farm, and we work with you to install and set up your system so you’re ready to go by summer. The main goal of a cooling system is to keep your cows comfortable, and their health and wellbeing is our priority. For more information, we also have a free webinar available with Dr Mike Wolf, who takes a deep dive into the latest research and information regarding cooling systems. Watch Webinar Recording here.
Eagle Direct has the knowledge and resources to help you find the most affordable and effective system that works for you and your farm. Click the button below to get in touch with us today.