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Waste Heat Could Keep Cows Cool and Comfortable

Graduate student Kristy Perano takes data on a cow’s level of heat stress. (Lindsay France/University Photography)

The dog days of summer can be brutal for cows. When dairy cattle get too hot, it means reduced milk production, decreased reproductive activity and sometimes death – and for dairy farmers, lost income.

To help farmers keep cows cool, Cornell engineers are collaborating on a multidisciplinary research project supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) that could provide an alternative to the fans, misters, sprinklers and other heat mitigation strategies typically used.

Conductive cooling refers to heat transfer through direct contact between surfaces of different temperatures; the concept of conductively cooling cows was previously studied by Kelley Bastian, a former graduate student of Kifle Gebremedhin, professor of biological and environmental engineering. Kristy Perano, a current graduate student with Gebremedhin, is now developing and validating the concept further to determine whether conductive cooling with chilled mats underneath cows have measurable effects on their heat stress levels, milk production and overall health.

Read the whole article [Cornell Chronicle 2013-10-22]