Dynamic cooling strategy based on individual animal response mitigated heat stress in dairy cows

Animal. 2021 Feb;15(2):100093. doi: 10.1016/j.animal.2020.100093. Epub 2020 Dec 29.


Technological progress enables individual cow's temperatures to be measured in real time, using a bolus sensor inserted into the rumen (reticulorumen). However, current cooling systems often work at a constant schedule based on the ambient temperature and not on monitoring the animal itself. This study hypothesized that tailoring the cooling management to the cow's thermal reaction can mitigate heat stress. We propose a dynamic cooling system based on in vivo temperature sensors (boluses). Thus, cooling can be activated as needed and is thus most efficacious. A total of 30 lactating cows were randomly assigned to one of two groups; the groups received two different evaporative cooling regimes. A control group received cooling sessions on a preset time-based schedule, the method commonly used in farms; and an experimental group, which received the sensor-based (SB) cooling regime. Sensor-based was changed weekly according to the cow's reaction, as reflected in the changes in body temperatures from the previous week, as measured by reticulorumen boluses. The two treatment groups of cows had similar milk yields (44.7 kg/d), but those in the experimental group had higher milk fat (3.65 vs 3.43%), higher milk protein (3.23 vs 3.13%), higher energy corrected milk (ECM, 42.84 vs 41.48 kg/d), higher fat corrected milk 4%; (42.76 vs 41.34 kg/d), and shorter heat stress duration (5.03 vs 9.46 h/day) comparing to the control. Dry matter intake was higher in the experimental group. Daily visits to the feed trough were less frequent, with each visit lasting longer. The sensor-based cooling regime may be an effective tool to detect and ease heat stress in high-producing dairy cows during transitional seasons when heat load can become severe in arid and semi-arid zones.

Keywords: Body temperature; Bolus; Global warming; Precision livestock farming; Sensor.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial, Veterinary

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Cold Temperature
  • Female
  • Heat Stress Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Heat Stress Disorders* / veterinary
  • Heat-Shock Response
  • Hot Temperature
  • Lactation
  • Milk