As the climate changes, the Fraser Valley is experiencing longer, hotter and drier summers. In addition to an overall increase in annual temperatures, there are likely to be more heat waves and extreme heat events. These conditions represent a unique challenge to the dairy industry and distinct strategies are needed to manage the health and productivity of dairy herds.
Dairy cows are susceptible to heat and will begin using energy to cool themselves at temperatures above 20°C. The impacts of heat include higher respiration, increased sweating and water consumption, reduced feed intake, reduced fertility, and lower milk production and butterfat content.
The 2019 report reviewed heat management practices and technologies currently employed by the Fraser Valley dairy industry, as well as those utilized in other jurisdictions, and identified those with potential for adoption or expanded uptake. Improving ventilation in dairy barns was one of the identified opportunities for improved heat management.
The 2023 report summarizes work to assess ventilation in existing dairy barns in the Fraser Valley and identify the practical options for improving heat management for the dairy herd on farm. This included identifying collaborating farms with a representative range of barn designs in the region and testing some improvements to existing ventilation systems.