Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Help cows chill out this summer

Help cows chill out this summer

With the current El Niño weather pattern bringing heatwave conditions to many parts of the country, it’s important to ensure cows avoid heat stress and closely monitor cow health.

As temperature and humidity levels rise this summer, farmers should take steps to ensure stock stay cool and where necessary put in place a plan help prevent facial eczema.

“These conditions also encourage facial eczema, so farmers are reminded to monitor spore levels in your area, talk to your vet and put in place a prevention plan to suit your farm situation.”

“When it comes to high temperatures this summer, put simply a cool cow is a happy cow,” says DairyNZ animal welfare team manager Chris Leach.

“When cows get too hot, and if they can’t cool down by shade or other means, their appetite and feed intake decrease and milk production is likely to suffer.

Studies indicate that New Zealand cows can suffer heat stress when temperatures go above 23°C and humidity is high, especially with little or no wind. They also show that proactive prevention of heat stress is more cost-effective than trying to manage the consequences once cows become heat stressed.
Normal respiration rates vary from 15-25 breaths per minute. A rate of more than 30 breaths per minute indicates that cows are heat stressed. Really hot cows will start to pant and breathe through an open mouth, with the tongue hanging out.

“All activity such as walking to the water trough, walking to and from the dairy – and even just grazing as normal – will contribute to increasing the risk of heat stress,” says Chris.

“Digesting food and producing milk also generates heat in dairy cows, and on hot days this can overload their system. High-producing animals tend to eat more and are therefore more susceptible to heat stress.”

If night-time temperatures are also very warm, it can be even more difficult for cows to cool down, without extra help.

Moving to once-a-day milking can help and, while heat stress is not usually the main reason for changing milking strategy, it is worth considering.

Another way to cool cows is providing shade or using a sprinkler system in the dairy yard, while the cows wait to be milked.

Wetting the skin is one of the most effective ways to cool a cow, however high humidity can make sprinklers less effective on a hot concrete surface.

So turn the water on half an hour before milking to cool the yard, using sprinklers that give a large droplet size and, if possible, use fans to create air movement when there is little or no wind.

Periodically wetting the roof to reduce radiated heat from hot iron roofing can also dramatically improve the milking environment for cows and milkers alike.

“Although installing sprinklers or shade structures can be costly, they will reduce the impact of high heat on cow comfort and milk production, especially in hotter parts of the country,” says Chris.

How to get cool cows

When hot conditions are forecast, some short-term solutions to reduce heat stress for cows and minimise milk production losses, are to:

• graze cows close to the dairy to reduce walking distance for milking and let them move at their own pace
• milk cows later in the afternoon/early evening when the temperature has dropped
• use paddocks with shade or provide cows with access to well-ventilated, shaded housing facilities
• provide supplementary feed at night, so the extra heat generated by digestion occurs at the coolest time of day
• make sure cows always have good clean drinking water. Milking cows can drink over 100L of water per day in summer
• provide shade or using a sprinkler system in the dairy yard, while the cows wait to be milked.

For more information visit


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Freight: New Report On Auckland Port Relocation

The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. More>>


Chartered Accountants: COVID-19 Fails To Knock Kiwi Investor Confidence, But More Disclosure Wanted

Three months of COVID-19 lockdown and investment turmoil has done little to knock confidence in New Zealand capital markets and listed companies with overall investor sentiment very similar to 2019, an investor survey held in mid June shows. However, ... More>>


Taxation: Black-Market Tobacco Sidesteps $287 Million In Excise Tax

Year-on-year increases in consumption of illicit tobacco in New Zealand have seen illegal trade swell to 11.5% of the total market. If consumed legally, illicit products would have netted the Government $287 million in excise tax during 2019. Independent ... More>>


Energy Sector: Meridian Spilled Water To Hike Electricity Prices - Authority Ruling

The Electricity Authority has found that generator Meridian Energy manipulated the power market, costing consumers about $80 million. More>>


XE Data Update: RBNZ Official Cash Rate Decision

The RBNZ will keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 0.25%. T he key points in the RBNZ statement are: RBNZ keeps the OCR unchanged at 0.25% Maintain the LSAP (large scale asset purchase) at NZD$60 billion. Committee prepared to use additional monetary ... More>>


Electricity: Kiwis Ignore Promise Of Cheaper Power

Electric Kiwi and Flick Electric Co are joint winners of Canstar Blue’s award for Most Satisfied Customers | Electricity Providers From putting on an extra layer – rather than turning on a heater – to turning off lights and choosing the energy-saving ... More>>


Electricity: Transmission Pricing For A Low Carbon Future

The Electricity Authority has decided on new guidelines for transmission pricing. James Stevenson-Wallace, Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority says the new guidelines will deliver significant benefits to consumers, through lower electricity ... More>>


NIWA: The Climate Record That Keeps Getting Broken

Among the multitude of New Zealand climate statistics there is one record that continues to be broken month after month. Since January 2017 there has not been one month that recorded a below average nationwide temperature, according to NIWA’s seven station ... More>>


Govt: Extended Loan Scheme Keeps Business Afloat

Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small ... More>>


Science: 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Announced

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes have been announced in a digital livestream event today. The Prizes recognise the impact of science on New Zealanders’ lives, celebrate the achievements of current scientists and encourage scientists of the ... More>>


RNZ: Fuel, Alcohol Costs To Go Up From Today

The increase today in the taxes on fuel, road user charges and alcohol is being called a tone-deaf move. More>>


Stardome Observatory: Young Kiwi Astro-Photographer Shoots For The Stars

Matariki by Josh Kirkley. The stars are aligning for up-and-coming Auckland-based astro-photographer Josh Kirkley (Kāi Tahu). During lockdown, one of his images was picked up by NASA and shared on the space agency’s Instagram to its 59.2 million ... More>>

DCANZ: Time For EU To Commit To A Level Playing Field For Trade

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU. Details leaked ... More>>


Potatoes New Zealand: Protecting NZ Fries As Part Of PNZ Pandemic Recovery & Transformation Plan

Potatoes New Zealand has met with Minister Faafoi this week to discuss investigating the potential importation of heavily discounted frozen potato chips into New Zealand. With MBIE’s support we are undertaking an investigation to gather evidence of the ... More>>


New Zealand Government: Supporting Kiwi Businesses To Resolve Rent Disputes

The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. More>>