If you are thinking about raising cattle or are a beginner, you likely have many questions. Many people ask us if cows sweat and ask for more information about how they stay cool during the hot summer months. The short answer is yes, cows do sweat but not like humans do, so keep reading while we take a closer look at these questions to help you be better informed.

new hoof divider Do Cows Sweat?

Cows do indeed sweat, but they have few sweat glands, which are not enough to stay cool without help. However, cows increase their number of sweat glands during the summer months to make them more effective.

Black and white cow showing teeth
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

The 3 Ways Cows Stay Cool

1. Respiration

The primary way cows stay cool during the summer months is through respiration. Breathing and panting will work with the sweating to help keep the cow cooler.

2. Storage

The cow’s body stores the heat during the day and releases it at night during cooler temperatures. Its body takes 6 hours to dissipate the heat, so you mustn’t work cattle too long into the day when temperatures are high, or it will be late in the evening when they finally recover.

3. Water

Your cattle will significantly increase their water intake when their temperature begins to rise. You can expect your cows to drink as much as 50% more water per day during the hot summer months. Experts recommend installing extra tanks early so the cows have a chance to learn where they are before the hot weather arrives.

drop of water
Image Credit: rony michaud, Pixabay

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The 6 Tips for Helping Cows Stay Cool

1. Shade

If you feel the temperatures are getting too high for your cattle, you can help get them out of the ultraviolet rays that can increase the cow’s temperature. You won’t want to keep them enclosed on a hot day either, but adding a few trees and other items around the pasture can help them get more relief.

2. Adjust Feed Times

Farmers can help their cows manage the hat better by adjusting their feed times. Heat production from feed peaks between four and six hours after feeding, and you don’t want it to correspond with the hottest part of the day. So, it’s better to feed them most of their food a few hours after peak temperature.

Pregnant cow grazing in grass
Image Credit: Muhammad_Taruf, Pixabay

3. Increase Airflow

Utilizing large fans to increase airflow over your cows will help decrease their internal temperature.

4. Get Them Wet

If you have a large pond on your property, you can coax them into the water to help them cool down. Cows are good swimmers and will likely enjoy a trip across the water, though some may need some time to adjust to the idea. If you don’t have a pond or other body of water, you can still get the cow wet by using buckets or a hose, but make sure you don’t scare them and try to keep the udders dry. Some farmers employ sprinklers, which can be a great way to cool down many cows simultaneously.

5. Keep The Cows Standing

We know it’s a lot easier said than done, but cows that remain standing will dissipate heat much faster than cows sitting.

spotted cow alone in the field
Image Credit: Pixabay

6. Decrease Flies

Farm Management

Fies will disturb your cows, increasing their anxiety and causing them to huddle together, which will decrease the airflow and cause body temperatures to rise. To decrease flies around your farm, you will need to take steps to eliminate the flies’ breeding grounds. Collect the manure from the cattle and other animals regularly and pile it close enough to the barn that you have access but far enough that the flies won’t bother the animals. You should also remove and damp or wet hay and bedding and spread it in a thin layer on the ground in the hot sun to dry it out. We also recommend you dispose of any organic material like old pieces of fruit that may be decaying every few days.

Fly Products

There are several commercial products that you can use to help reduce the fly population on your property. For example, traditional favorites like flypaper and traps may not do much on a large area but placing them above where the cow sleep can be an effective way to get rid of plenty. Modern misters will spray pesticide into the air every 15 minutes, and they also work well where your cow sleeps and are tested safe for your herd.

Fly parasites are another effective way to help control the fly population. These insects look like flying ants, and they feed off the fly larvae to help eliminate them. These insects can control the fly population much better than the other options and shouldn’t cause any problems.

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Warning Signs

  • Any time the temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the cattle are in distress, and you need to start taking steps to keep them cool.
  • Hot weather followed by rain can make it harder for your cow to cool down
  • Night temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit will make it difficult for the cow to cool down and increase stress levels.
  • Cattle suffering from overheating will usually stop eating, and they will also become restless.
  • If the overheated state continues, the cow will usually start to drool, and their breathing rates will increase.
  • Cows suffering from heat stress will also start to herd together, reducing airflow and increasing temperatures.
Portrait of a Nguni cow
Image Credit: EcoPrint, Shutterstock

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Cows sweat, but they only have about 10% of the sweat glands in humans, and they are much larger, so sweating isn’t going to be an effective way for the cow to cool down. It will also need to depend on its respiratory system to stay cool, and you can help by providing shade, lots of moving air, water, and insect control. The heat can creep up quickly, so get started early, creating an effective system that is already in place when the temperatures climb.

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Featured Image Credit: Pitsch, Pixabay