Evaluation of conductive cooling of lactating dairy cows under controlled environmental conditions

X. A. Ortiz, J. F. Smith, F. Rojano, C. Y. Choi, J. Bruer, T. Steele, N. Schuring, J. Allen, R. J. Collier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Scopus citations


    Cooling systems used to reduce heat stress in dairy operations require high energy, water usage, or both. Steady increases in electricity costs and reduction of water availability and an increase in water usage regulations require evaluation of passive cooling systems to cool cows and reduce use of water and electricity. A study was conducted to evaluate the use of heat exchangers buried 25. cm below the surface as components in a conductive system for cooling cows. Six cows were housed in environmentally controlled rooms with tie-stall beds, which were equipped with a heat exchanger and filled with 25. cm of either sand or dried manure. Beds were connected to supply and return lines and individually controlled. Two beds (one per each kind of bedding material) constituted a control group (water off), and the other 4 (2 sand and 2 dried manure) used water at 7°C passing through the heat exchangers (water on). The experiment was divided in 2 periods of 40. d, and each period involved 3 repetitions of 3 different climates (hot and dry, thermo neutral, and hot and humid). Each cow was randomly assigned to a different treatment after each repetition was over. Sand bedding remained cooler than dried manure bedding in all environments and at all levels of cooling (water on or off). Bed temperatures were lower and heat flux higher during the bed treatment with sand and water on. We also detected a reduction in core body temperatures, respiration rates, rectal temperatures, and skin temperatures of those cows during the sand and water on treatment. Feed intake and milk yield numerically increased during the bed treatment with sand and water on for all climates. No major changes were observed in the lying time of cows or the composition of the milk produced. We conclude that use of heat exchangers is a viable adjunct to systems that employ fans, misters, and evaporative cooling methods to mitigate effects of heat stress on dairy cows. Sand was superior to dried manure as a bedding material in combination with heat exchangers.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1759-1771
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of dairy science
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


    • Conductive cooling
    • Dairy cow
    • Heat stress

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Food Science
    • Animal Science and Zoology
    • Genetics


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