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Behavioral indicators of early heat stress in dairy cows in pasture-based systems in Switzerland

Title OriginalVerhaltensmerkmale zur Erkennung von beginnendem Hitzestress bei Milchkühen in weidebasierten Haltungssystemen in der Schweiz

Global climate change leads to an increase in the frequency of heat periods, even in moderate climate zones such as Switzerland. Dairy cattle are particularly vulnerable to heat stress, which impairs performance as well as animal health and welfare. Cooling measures, commonly used inside the stable, are often not suitable for pastured cattle during heat periods.

The objectives of the project are to identify heat stress early and reliably by using behavioral traits in pasture-based systems and to evaluate effective strategies to minimize heat load in dairy cows through:

  1. A survey of common heat stress management on dairy farms.
  2. Experimental evaluation of behavioral indicators suitable to identify heat stress early in grazing dairy cows by means of validated physiological indicators. Additionally, the cooling efficiency of keeping cows indoors during the hottest time of the day will be assessed.
  3. Finally, validation of the identified behavioral indicators of heat stress on several dairy farms.
Financing/ Donor
  • Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO)
  • Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)
  • Fondation Sur-la-Croix
(Research) Program
  • Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO; ANIHWA ERA-Net
  • Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) – Research, training and innovation
  • Fondation Sur-la-Croix – Research and Innovation
Project partners
  • Zentrum für tiergerechte Haltung, Tänikon
  • Agroscope
  • Posieux Universität Bern, Vetsuisse-Fakultät
  • Universität Göttingen
FiBL project leader/ contact
Role of FiBL

Project partner

Research area
  • Animal husbandry & Livestock breeding ( )
FiBL project number 50097
Date modified 12.11.2019
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