Combatting Heat Stress: The Hidden Menace for Dairy Farmers

By Hydor

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With summer around the corner, Stuart Wilkieson, Technical Sales Engineer from Hydor, discusses why hanging fans are the answer to dairy farmers’ heat stress concerns.

Summer is a time that many look forward to. However, for dairy farmers, it can be one of the most challenging times of year, especially when it comes to managing the welfare of their herds.

That’s because of heat stress. When temperatures start to climb, dairy cows will begin to lower their feed intake, their milk production goes down, and heat stress also affects their pregnancy rates too. Cows will also stand and huddle together too, introducing a further potential complication of lameness as they are not resting.

All of this can have a detrimental impact to a dairy farmer. A cow in heat stress can lose as much as 20% of its milk yield, according to the National Animal Disease Information Service, not to mention affecting the calving season in the following year.

So, what is the answer to these problems?

Cooling cows with correctly staged fans

One of the main methods of keeping cows cool and out of the heat stress zone (which is when air temperatures start to climb above 25°C) is to stage hanging fans down the length of the shed where the dairy cows reside.

Hanging fans, like Hydor’s HV Hanging Belt Drive Fans range that comes in 1250mm, 1,500mm, and 2,000mm, are an easy and efficient solution to moving hot, humid air out of a shed, and allow fresh, cooler air to be drawn in.

It is important farmers consult with agricultural ventilation specialists like Hydor to ensure that fans are specified correctly so that they perform effectively. Hanging fans will be able to move air a certain distance before needing another fan to then continue moving this air on and eventually out of the building.

Depending on the shed design and where the fans can be positioned, it may alter the amount of fans required. For instance, a bigger, 2,000mm fan may be able to do the same job as two smaller 1,250mm fans, thus saving farmers money in capital costs, as well as ongoing electricity costs.

Generally speaking, if using 1,250mm fans, then these would need to be hung on every second truss or bay along the length of the shed to ensure that air is moved out effectively.

Maintaining control

Besides staging fans so that they are efficient and not overspecifying/underspecifying the amount of fans required, farmers should also consider how the fans will be controlled. There are three main options – a simple on/off that switches all the fans, individual on/off switches for each individual fan, or a bespoke control system.

Bespoke control systems are ideal for farmers who may have six or more fans in their sheds. These units can control the fans based on a timeclock, as well as temperature and humidity using sensors. The key benefit is that farmers do not need to manually switch the fans on or off – as soon as the air or humidity reaches a pre-determined level, the fans will switch on and begin cooling the shed. The timeclock also means fans can be set to turn off when bedding goes down, so as to not draw dust into the air from the cows’ bedding material.

As well as taking the manual operation of fans out of the equation, bespoke control units also help farmers save money. The fans will automatically turn on and off, so they are not running unnecessarily and wasting electricity.

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