Even with numerous large fans, holding areas can become incredibly hot in a very short amount of time, even during colder weather. In the summer, when cows are already struggling to stay cool, holding pens can become a death zone.
A 1,500 lb cow producing 80 lb of milk per day generates 5,100 BTUs of heat per hour. Each cow produces about the same amount of heat as a 1,500-watt space heater.
Now imagine 100 cows crowded into a holding area, they would produce as much heat as 100 space heaters!
In a free stall setting, cows can generate 40 to 80 BTUs per square foot. Crowded together in the holding pen waiting to be milked, the heat generated by cows can jump to 375 to 525 BTUs per square foot.
Depending on the configuration and location of the parlour/holding area relative to neighbouring buildings, cool outside breezes cannot reach the naturally ventilated holding area. No matter how many fans you have in the holding area, they cannot cool the air, all they do is a move that hot air around.
Water needs to be added to the formula to provide cooling; it is the only way to manipulate her core body temperature. As the water droplets evaporate off her coat, they produce a chemical reaction that causes a chilling effect. This chilling effect cools her blood that is flowing close to the surface of her skin; this cooled blood is pumped around her body, lowering her Core Body Temperature and keeping her in her thermal comfort zone.
High yielding adult cows can exhale four gallons/15 litres of water per day through their lungs. That means one cow can expel a pint/1 litre of water into the air every time she is in the holding pen.
That's why it's imperative Temperature Humidity Index(THI) in the holding area is monitored at all times. The rate and flow of water both need to be adjusted to take into account the rise and fall in humidity throughout the day.
Holding pens are a high-risk area of heat gain, preventing heat stress in this area can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of cows as well as production and reproduction levels and not just in the summer, all year round. It can take up to six hours for CBT to lower back to normal after being heat stressed in the holding area. What happens then? She goes back into the holding area, and her temperature goes right back up again. She never finds respite from her elevated core body temperature.
Instinct tells hot cows that the fastest way to cool their Core Body Temperature (CBT) is to lower their feed intake. Rumination generates massive amounts of heat, the last thing a hot cow wants to do is eat, when cows don't eat their production drops. Maintaining cows CBT in the Holding area can have massive impacts on production levels.
Heat gained in the holding area can also mean increased standing time in the pens while the cow tries to dissipate heat: time that should be spent lying down. The cow's basic instinct kicks in again and tells her the next best way to lower her CBT is to stand and pant. So she stands, or perches and pants to find relief, to try to cool herself.
Multiple studies have proven that any time there is less than 10 hours per day of lying time, it substantially increases the risk of lameness. Fall lameness can cost hundreds of dollars in treatment, and in worse cases, can force her to be culled way before her time.
It has been proven on-farm and in research projects that summer heat stress also has a significant impact on summer reproduction levels. The heat cycle, the duration and the intensity of the cycle are all dramatically decreased. It becomes harder and harder to see cows in heat and get them inseminated. The other problem with heat stress is on actual fertility, what happens in early embryonic development. The last few days right before the cow ovulates and the first couple of days after ovulation, the early embryo is highly susceptible to increased body temperatures. The result of heat stress at this time during the cycle can be catastrophic to the embryo. This early embryo is highly susceptible to elevated maternal body temperature.
What we see is a decrease in conception rate, which is associated primarily with the increased pregnancy loss. Both these contribute to a negative effect on reproduction.
CowKühlerZ offers a solution to the woes of Holding Area heat stress. A fully automated system that is continuously monitoring the environment in your holding area, so you don't have to do a thing.
What do customers have to say?
"Before we notice that it's warm, the automation has already begun, the fans come on at 30% and cool the cows while we are still bundled up in sweaters and gloves in cooler months.
The Holding Pen system takes all the worry of heat stress in that area; it's off my mind because the system is programed to run during milking times and shut off after milking is finished. I don't need to worry about the parlour labour staff forgetting to turn the system on or off, that just happens automatically. That peace of mind is priceless." A farmer from Halifax PA
What does CowKühlerZ have to offer?
Strategically placed and angled the 25" KühlBlu or 50" Brute fans, force a powerful, focused blast of air down on the cows, pushing the air between them, along their bodies, down their flanks and under their bellies. Maximizing the effects of air cooling with velocity.
The air from the high-power KühlBlu can produce 5 mph air movement 60 feet away; the Brute fan can produce 5mph air movement at 100 feet.
Misters are installed in front of the fan. Throughout the pen, sets of drop-down nozzles create a fine droplet mist or a light rain depending on the requirement to prevent heat stress regardless of extreme heat.
One automatic and the intuitive controller operates both the fan and water systems – and is programmed to turn them on in stages during milking times as temperatures in the holding area rise.
At 55ºF, the fans in front of the pen turn on at a low level, picking up speed incrementally as temperatures rise.
By 65ºF, the fans are operating at full speed.
At 69ºF, the attached KühlerZ nozzles come on at timed intervals and inject ultra-fine droplets into the air stream. These fine droplets offer the chilling benefit of evaporative cooling while using minimal amounts of water.
By the time the controller's sensors read 80ºF, all the KühlerZ nozzles are on continuously, and the KühlBlu fans are running at full speed.
After install, the system can be tweaked. With a few slight adjustments, a balance can be achieved where the system is spraying enough water to cool the cows and not getting them too wet before entering the parlour.
Once that balance is achieved, the system takes care of the rest, precisely and fully automated, freeing you up to focus on other things.
The CowKuhlerZ System is like a formula if you take one of the elements out the results aren't going to be as effective. All the elements work together to achieve the best result. What is that result? Limiting the effects of heat stress on a herd, by manipulating the environment to maintain core body temperature within the optimal range. Droplets act as "imitation sweat" which creates a chilling effect on the cow and effectively cools her while using minimal resources.
What do customers have to say?
"One thing I have learned since installing the automated system is that heat stress happens in the holding pen on days when I didn't necessarily expect it. I never thought cows might be experiencing heat stress in February!
On the warmer winter days, when temperatures peak up in the 50s or 60s, the temperature probe in the pen activates the first level of cooling to kick in. I consider this to be a major benefit of the system. I don't have to run around looking at the thermometer and turning on fans.
It's nice to have something looking out for the cows."
"As a note of special interest, we used to have to go into the pens and coax the cows to the holding area for milking. Now the cows run to the holding area even on the hottest, humid days. Its fun to watch them kick up their heels and gallop to enjoy getting cooled down in the Holding Area."
"With the old system, cows didn't want to walk into or out of the parlor, but now, we actually have cows running to the holding pen and parlor because they want to be there,"
A farmer near Halifax, PA
To speak with a CowKühlerZ representative email email@example.com or call 1-844-GET-KUHL, or fill in the contact form below.
Article based on podcast from Wisconsin University. To listen to the full podcast https://youtu.be/Zf8DQuLJmhg