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Barns & Equipment

Whether using a tiestall, freestall, dry lot or pasture, here are some tips for cow comfort and maintaining farm facilities and equipment.

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Heat stress is an economic cost for U.S. producers. It is estimated that hot weather costs dairy farmers $900 million per year in reduced milk production and reduced fertility. In addition, heat stress is an animal welfare issue, as severe heat stress can result in death.

Animal behavior can provide insights into how and when to cool dairy cows. We will review the behavioral responses to heat stress and examine results from studies looking at two common methods for cooling dairy cattle: shade and sprinklers.

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Flies are just as annoying to cows as they are to people. But two types of flies cause actual discomfort for cows – stable and biting flies. Both of these flies bite and draw blood. Here are some tips for recognizing and controlling them.

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Why is cow cooling important?

Cooling dairy cows is important for several reasons. Cows enjoy temperatures in the range of about 40°F to 68°F. At temperatures above this range, cows use more energy to get rid of the excess heat. To get this additional energy, the cow must either eat more feed, use less energy for milk production or reproduction or convert body fat reserves to energy.

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Cavitation is called the cancer of the hydraulic system. Like cancer in humans, it can be a silent killer of your system by eating away at the hydraulic pump and other parts of the system.

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Milking equipment cleanliness and proper functionality play a big role in achieving peak milk quality. Often when producers attempt to correct problems related to high standard plate count (SPC) or protein, fat and mineral buildup in their pipeline and inflations, they find a variety of issues to blame. Such was the case with a Progressive Dairyman reader who wrote to us in search of answers.

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Are you doing the “little things” at your dairy to take your bulk tank from 70 to 80, 80 to 90, or 90 to 95 pounds of high-quality milk per cow per day?

Cows and their environment

Milk quality starts with providing a clean, dry, comfortable environment. When was the last time you did a cow comfort audit? When was the last time you stopped, looked and listened to your cows in their resting place? While spending time watching and listening to your cows get up in the stalls, do we see cows standing idle (standing with all four feet in the stall)? Do we see cows “perching” (two feet in the stall and two feet in the alley) or cows lying diagonally in the stall? A cow comfort audit should include an assessment of the facility for meeting the behavioral and safety needs of the cow, including signs of injury, lameness or behavioral abnormalities.

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