It is fairly common for farmers to install fans and sprinklers to keep the lactating herd cool. With that being said, an overlooked group of cows are the dry cows.
Recent studies showed that around 74% of all operators provided fans for the lactating herd while only around 35% provided fans for dry cows. As for sprinklers, only around 20% of all operations provide sprinklers for the lactating herd while around 4.5% of dry cows were cooled with sprinklers.
It is a well known knowledge that lactating herd will have lower milk production and poor reproduction due to heat stress. However, not much focus has been placed on the negative effects of heat stress on dry cows.
The effect of heat stress on dry cows were conducted where the cows were imposed to heat stress or cooling from dry off till calving. Upon calving, all the cows were moved to free stall barn equipped with sprinklers and fans. Results showed that on average, the cows born from heat stressed cows weighed 17 pounds less. Cows that were cooled during dry period produced an average of 14 pounds more milk in the first 30 weeks post-calving as compared to heat stressed cows.
Besides milk production and calf birth weights, research also showed that heat stressed cows had lower immune system. Cows that were cooled showed a greater ability to kill bacteria and fight off any infections at 20 days post-partum.
These studies showed that there are economical advantages of cooling dry cows. By neglecting this aspect on your farm operations, you may be losing out on higher milk production potential.