Whilst water intakes are variable and typically average 75 to 115 litres in hot weather this can increase to 190-230 litres per day. Cows that are producing more milk will need even more water. Intakes are optimal when there is at least least 10cm water space for each cow, and at least two troughs for each group larger than 10 cows. Cows like to drink in groups as they are social creatures and will normally drink up to 60% of their daily requirement straight after milking . Ensuring large volume troughs have a minimum flow rate of 20 litres/min will avoid risking them being empty at peak times.
Where possible try to graze fields with shade, this is important for dry cows and youngstock as well as milkers. Studies have shown a 10% to 20% increase in milk production for cows offered shade in pasture compared to those without shade.
As the collecting yard is one of the most highly stocked areas of the farm consider how you can decrease heat stress here. It may mean moving cows across in smaller groups, installing a fan or rigging up a hose to sprinkle over cows.
Whilst not a short term fix there are ways to modify buildings to keep them cooler. This may mean: removing alternate boards from walls, opening roof ridges or changing doors for gates without metal panelling. Skylights can be painted to reduce the amount of sunlight and heat coming in, this can be especially useful if the roof is south facing.
Ideally fans would be 36 to 48 inches wide and 8 foot off the ground, 20 foot apart. Angling them down (about 15 to 25 degrees) should create continous air flow across a building. Tubes may also be of use to deliver air further around the building. Again, although not a cheap fix with hot summers looking like they are here to stay this could be an investment for the future.
Don’t add to the stress!
Avoid tasks where you are gathering groups of cattle together or stressing them (e.g. moving, sorting or vaccinating) on very hot days. Whilst a cow may appear to be coping with heat stress adding other tasks in to the mix may push her over the edge.