6 min read
Heat stress negatively affects dairy cows in many ways; it causes discomfort, lowers cows’ milk production, and it is an increasing problem due to global warming. DairyNZ is researching methods of identifying when heat stress might occur to help farmers manage their herds and lessen its impact.
One of the most visible signs of heat stress in dairy cattle is heavy breathing or panting, which is away for cows to cool themselves.
Together with AgResearch and Fonterra, we have developed a grazing heat load index tool to assess the potential heat stress risks in dairy cattle grazing pasture. So far most of the research has taken place in the Waikato.
We are widening the scope of our research to:
We are developing a grazing heat load index for New Zealand to predict which weather conditions will create heat stress events. We are also looking at how we can use this information to help farmers improve animal welfare.
We are collecting data from farms across New Zealand and have existing on-farm sensor technology. In the future we hope to use the grazing heatload index and the sensor technology to better understand how effective different mitigation measures are.
The results of this research will help us develop digital technologies that monitor and inform farmers when cows are likely to experience heat stress, so they can take preventative action.