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Cow standing, laying behavior can predict heat stress

Written March 18, 2013

Study shows cows stand when core body temperatures are up

The standing and laying behavior of cows can predict their heat stress, according to a study conducted by the University of Arizona and Northwest Missouri State University.

Predicting heat stress is vital for keeping cows healthy and productive, said Dr. Jamison Allen during a presentation at the 2013 American Dairy Science Association Midwest Branch/American Society of Animal Science Midwestern Section Meeting. Cows will pant, eat less and produce less milk when their core body temperature increases. The researchers used two tools to study the relationship between behavior and temperature. They fitted each cow with an intra-vaginal sensor to measure core body temperature, and fitted each cow with a special leg sensor to measure the angle of the leg and track whether the cow was standing or lying. After comparing data from cows in Arizona, California and Minnesota, the researchers concluded that standing behavior and core body temperature are strongly correlated. Allen said cows stood for longer bouts of time as their core body temperatures rose from 101 degrees Fahrenheit to above 102 degrees.

According to Allen, dairy producers could use standing behavior to improve well being and efficiency in their herds. He said producers could use coolers and misters to target a specific core body temperature. By encouraging cows to lie down, producers will also help their cows conserve energy. Allen recommended future studies to see how cows respond to different cooling systems.

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