PRO-DAIRY e-Alert: Cooling Cows

Curt Gooch, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

A visit on July 4th to a dairy farm that employs aggressive fan cooling for their dairy cows (Key Considerations – Fan Cooling Cows) reminded me how much cows really need direct evaporative cooling (sprinklers) to mitigate heat stress when summertime heat waves hit. Cows lying in their sand beds were aggressively panting and drooling saliva with every breath. While sprinklers cannot be located to cool cows when resting in stalls, they can do a great job at the feed bunk, holding areas, and return alleys.

 Keys to successful sprinkler systems include:

  • ample water supply, up to 50 gallons per cow per day
  • adequately sized pipe to deliver required water to sprinkler manifold pipes
  • low pressure within manifold pipes – about 20 psi
  • nozzles located so that cows’ backs and upper flanks are soaked to the skin in about two minutes of water application
  • fans located over feedbunk to remove cow-evaporated moisture from immediately around the hair surface for the balance of a 10 to 15 minute wetting cycle
  • an appropriate system controller with proper settings

Details on sprinkler cooling systems can be found on pages seven through nine of Application and Management of Dairy Cattle Heat Stress Relief Systems.

Additional resources include: