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Heat-stressed cows spend more time standing

Date:
March 12, 2013
Source:
American Society of Animal Science
Summary:
Animal scientists have found that cows stand for longer bouts of time on hot days. Standing allows cows to cool off, but standing also uses up more energy. If cows are encouraged to lie down, they may be more healthy and productive.
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A new study shows that standing and lying behavior can predict heat stress in cows.
Credit: © doris oberfrank-list / Fotolia

A new study by researchers at the University of Arizona and Northwest Missouri State University shows that standing and lying behavior can predict heat stress in cows.

In a presentation at the 2013 ADSA Midwest Branch / ASAS Midwestern Section Meeting, Dr. Jamison Allen explained that predicting heat stress is vital for keeping cows healthy and productive. Cows will pant, eat less and produce less milk when their core body temperature increases.

Allen said cows prefer standing to lying on hot days. Cows stand to allow more of their surface area to disperse heat into the air. Allen and his colleagues were curious to see if standing behavior could be used to predict core body temperature.

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. They also 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.

"We can predict the animal's behavior to stand according to their core temperature," Allen said.

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. He said researchers could also study cow behavior related to humidity.

Allen's abstract was titled "Effect of core body temperature or time of day on lying behavior of lactating dairy cows." The research was presented Mar. 12 as part of the Animal Behavior, Housing and Well Being Oral Session.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Society of Animal Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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American Society of Animal Science. "Heat-stressed cows spend more time standing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130312134731.htm>.
American Society of Animal Science. (2013, March 12). Heat-stressed cows spend more time standing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130312134731.htm
American Society of Animal Science. "Heat-stressed cows spend more time standing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130312134731.htm (accessed July 1, 2015).

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