Help cows keep their cool

By Country News

The recent heatwave is a reminder of summer’s arrival and the likelihood of more warmer weather ahead.

Dairy Australia’s Cool Cows program has a few tips on how to keep cows cooler, more comfortable and maintaining production.

There are three ways to keep your cows cool.

Natural shade

If you want to keep your cows cool, always start with shade.

Shade is the most effective way of reducing heat load because it blocks solar radiation, so providing shade to the herd should be your first priority.

The most effective way of reducing heat load is to block solar radiation by providing shade. When not enough natural paddock shade is available, artificial shade can be used to minimise cows’ exposure to solar radiation.

Portable shade

Portable paddock shade structures may incorporate shade cloth or corrugated iron roofing.

Wheels or skids enable the structures to be towed behind a tractor or four-wheel motorbike to where they are needed.

These structures are very effective when no other cooling is available in paddocks, such as overhead sprinklers (for example, lateral move and centre pivot irrigators).

These shade structures can be in paddocks/laneways, in dry corners of centre pivot irrigated paddocks or near portable feeding troughs and hay rings.

Providing shade minimises heat gain in cows in the first place, but if they have accumulated heat load, then you need to do all you can to maximise heat loss via evaporation.


Paddock sprays and sprinklers wet the cow’s hair and skin. As the water evaporates, heat is off-loaded from the cow to the surrounding environment. This increases with air movement.

Sprays and sprinklers work best in low humidity conditions.

Centre pivots and travelling irrigators can also provide cows with evaporative cooling on warm to hot days.

Cows will congregate in the ‘evaporative zone’ near the sprinklers rather than directly under the sprinklers.

■For more information go to the Cool Cows website: