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Physiological Responses of Dairy Cows during Extended Solar Exposure

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 53(1): 239-247. (doi: 10.13031/2013.29499) @2010
Authors:   K. G. Gebremedhin, C. N. Lee, P. E. Hillman, R. J. Collier
Keywords:   Body temperature, Dairy cows, Heat stress, Respiration rate, Skin temperature, Sweating rate, Thermal response

Sweating and respiration rates, and skin (dorsal) and core (rectal) temperatures of 12 Holstein dairy cows were measured in controlled environments at the William Parker Agricultural Research Complex, University of Arizona-Tucson. The focus of the study was: (1) to establish the pattern (linear or periodic) of sweating, (2) to establish whether skin or core temperature drives sweating, (3) to determine how cows respond to a prolonged solar exposure, and (4) to compare dairy cows physiological responses to hot and humid versus hot and dry environmental conditions. The 12 cows were divided into two groups of six cows each and were housed alternately between two chambers. The two chambers were identical, but one (experimental chamber) included solar lamps to simulate solar load. The cows were alternately exposed to 550 W/m2 solar load, THI at 79.6, and air velocity in the measurement area (dorsal surface) was maintained at 1.0 m/s. Skin temperature was greater than 35°C (threshold for heat stress). There was considerable variation in sweating rates between cows. Cows sweat in a cyclic manner, and the results suggest that skin temperature is the primary driving force for sweating. The maximum sweating rate of dairy cows was around 660 g/m2-h.

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