Sprinklers and Hot Cows

Turning sprinklers on for longer (and off for shorter periods) has better cooling effects

A brand new research paper has shown that when the sprinklers are turned on for longer periods in the same overall time, cows’ body temperatures and air temperatures are lowered more than frequent, shorter sprinkler periods. Water use went up from 59L/min to 99L/min (19L vs 34L/cow/hour) but this paid off with more comfortable cooling effects in the cow. Follow this reference link for Tresoldi et al, 2018 Journal of Dairy Science from UC Davis, California. – opens in a new window

In this experiment, 2 groups of 10 cows were PAK milk shed good fansexposed to either frequent, short bursts of sprinkler activity (1.5 mins “on” every 3, 6 and 12 minutes)  or longer bursts: 3 minutes “on” every 3, 6 or 12 minutes for 45 minutes duration. Body temperature, Respiration rate, Air temperature, Temperature Humidity Index and the temperature on the surface of the shoulder and leg of the cows were measured.

The key point to take away from the results was that BOTH strategies were effective at cooling down cows to comfortable limits, with no differences found in THI, air temperature or shoulder surface temperature. However, using the higher water volume for longer did show lower body temperatures by 0.5ºC and lower temperatures at the leg of the cows.

This is a useful research paper in terms of cow physiology but future research should include performance indicators such as energy-corrected milk volume per day, conducted over longer periods of time. Only then could producers make the decision as to when it would be of better value to use more water.