Preventing heat stress in your dairy cows

30 June 2024
2 minutes

Heat stress in cattle is a critical concern for producers, particularly in the warmer months. When temperature increases, it leads to increase the effect of heat stress, which can cause adverse effect on cattle health and production. Many dairy farmers use multiple practices to keep their cows away from adverse effect of heat stress which include following points:


  • Shade helps in reducing the effect of direct sun heat which is one of the most effective way to reduce the heat stress.

  • Shade provides a period of relief from direct sunlight, which can ultimately cause the reduction in the temperature during the hottest parts of the day.

  • It is important to provide enough shade for all of the animals at the same time and also avoiding the overcrowding.

  • On an average, a cattle require around 20 to 40 square feet of shade which considered to be comfortable for a cattle during hot days.


  • Hydration is important for a cow to regulate body temperature.
  • Adequate drinking water should be supplied at all times.
  • At high temperatures and under heat stress, water consumption increases
  • The water required by a cow equals four times her daily milk yield.
  • Cattle should be supplied with fresh water in hot summer days
  • Water troughs should be placed in such a way that cow traffic is not disturbed by drinking cows.
  • It is recommended that the water troughs should be at least three inches deep to allow cows to submerge their muzzle when drinking.

Housing Management

  • Cows need ventilation to cool off
  • Natural side-ways ventilation in open-sided barns, together with mechanical ventilation from 68°F onwards, is the most effective.
  • Sprinkling water over cows helps them to cool off (>78°F), but this can only be applied at regular intervals in combination with mechanical ventilation to prevent udders from getting wet.
  • Avoid placing sprinklers near the feed bunk so that the feed doesn’t become wet because, wet feed leads to increase in chance of growth of molds during hot weather.

Feeding management

  • Feeding more often, at cool moments of the day, keeps the ration fresh and tasty
  • Minerals and vitamins are most required to avoid stress (specially Na, P & Vit A, E)
  • Addition of sodium bicarbonate or simply the addition of salt to the ration may also be useful to prevent ruminal acidosis.
  • The energy content of the total ration at the feed should be adjusted.
  • During hot periods, it is advisable to have the cows in pasture only during the night or during the cool moments (evening, early morning) of the day.


  • Check ventilation capacity and increase ventilation rate when necessary (mechanical ventilation).
  • Check cleanliness of water troughs daily.
  • It is advisable to feed a special ration (supplemented with additional minerals and vitamins) to the cows at least two times a day (to keep the ration fresh and tasty).
  • During hot periods, it is advisable to only have the cows in pasture during the night or during the cool moments (evening, early morning) of the day