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Heat stress affecting dairy cow production

A dairy cow on display
A dairy cow on display

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - If you think it’s hot outside, just think of what Wisconsin’s dairy cows are going through.

America’s Dairyland has about 1.2 million cows – and many are bound to suffer heat stress with highs in the 90’s for most of the week.

Dr. Marcia Endres of the University Extension service in neighboring Minnesota says the heat can reduce a cow’s milk production by up to 15 percent – or about 2 gallons a day at the most.

She tells Twin Cities’ TV station KSTP that it can take a few days for a producing cow to show signs of heat stress – and the effects can linger for a lot longer.

The University of Minnesota is studying ways to warn dairy farmers that a cow is about to suffer heat stress. In one experiment, a thermometer is planted in a cow’s stomach – and the unit is designed to send an e-mail or a text alert to a farmer before the animal gets too stressed.