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University of Missouri

Cool Cows Make Bank

New app alerts farmers to cattle in distress.

cow

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Cows living in comfy climates breathe about 40 times a minute. But when overheated, their respiratory rates quadruple, a problem costing farmers hundreds of millions of dollars. Heat-stressed cattle might eat less or not at all, which slows growth rates in beef cattle, reduces milk production in dairy cows and jeopardizes overall health. Luckily, MU researcher Don Spiers’ new app called ThermalAid helps farmers calculate cows’ respiration rates, combines the information with local heat and humidity data, and alerts farmers when cattle might be in heat stress. ThermalAid links to ThermalNet, a website on detecting and reducing heat stress. Farmers can provide shade, install cooling systems, such as fans and water-mist machines, or alter the animals’ diet.