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Cooling cows: the udder way

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

Citation:  2012 IX International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES IX)  ILES12-1549.(doi:10.13031/2013.41580)
Authors:   Kifle G Gebremedhin, Chin N Lee, Jamie E Larson, Jeremiah Davis
Keywords:   Keywords: dairy cows, heat stress, udder wetting, body wetting, rectal temperature, vaginal temperature

The objective of this study was to explore an alternative way to cool cows in time of heat stress. The procedure followed was to compare wetting the udder only to wetting the whole body. Twelve pregnant lactating Holstein cows were used in the study. The cows were exposed to four treatments each day over 4 days. The treatments were: (1) wetting the whole body without blowing air (n = 24), (2) wetting the whole body and blowing air (n = 12), (3) wetting the udder only without blowing air (n = 24), and (4) wetting the udder and blowing air directly towards the udder (n = 12). Water was sprayed until it dripped from the cow body. Identical fans were used to blow air onto the wet area, and were on until measurements of rectal temperature, respiration rate, and skin surface temperature both at the udder and body (chest to rear rib area) were taken. Respiration rates and skin temperatures were significantly higher (p> 0.05) when wetting the udder versus wetting the whole body. There was no statistical difference in rectal temperature between udder and whole-body wetting with or without air blowing onto the skin. Since rectal temperature is a measure of internal body temperature, it can be concluded that udder wetting alone is as effective as wetting the whole body in abating thermal stress of dairy cows. Blowing air onto the wet udder further decreased udder surface temperature. The rectal and vaginal temperatures were highly correlated (R = 0.93).

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