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Heat Stress

Heat Stress

Heat stress

Heat stress is most marked when it comes in short bursts with no time for the cow to adapt to the rising temperatures.

When heat stressed:

  • A cows’ feed intake milk yield decline. Intakes can decline by 10-30%.  Milk yield can decline by as much as 20%.
  • There will also be a reduction in fertility, including an increase in embryonic loss.
  • There is also evidence of an increase in the risk of clinical mastitis.


Minimise the effects of heat stress on animals


  • Provision of clean drinking water is critical for all animals during hot weather
  • As temperatures rise, cows will drink up to 30% more water (in excess of 100 litres/day)
  • As they will need water more often, it is important that cows are not forced to walk long distances for water
  • If possible, make water available to cows before and/or after milking so that cows have their needs met

Shade from direct sunlight

  • Provide shade areas to allow cows to keep cool away from direct sunlight
  • Where possible, use paddocks with trees for shade or allow access to housed areas during the day
  • Reduce the time cows spend in holding yards to a minimum
  • Watch for sunburn, especially in white coloured cows, and keep these cows indoors day and night if required