When Do Cows Have The Need To Huddle
Cows like to huddle. But why do animals do this? And why especially in the summer? In this blog, I explain more.
Every summer, we receive questions from a specific topic from around the world. The farmers asked: “Our cows are crowded together at a certain time of the day (around noon) and will not move.” This behavior will also stop at the same time every afternoon. When the temperature drops, it also disappears in the fall.
Looking for fresh air
We examined a lot of these cases and we concluded that it was caused by fresh air seeking behavior. Part of the cow in the barn is a group, the air is fresh and avoids areas that it does not have. The behavioral component is the fact that in nature, cows gather together as a response to stinging and biting insects. We don't think insects are the main cause of contracture, but insects are not found where the air flows well. So this instinct can strengthen the huddle.
Insufficient ventilation causes more damage and problems than most dairy farmers know. Photo: Henk Riswick
If you see cows curled up together,you can walk around in the barn to use your nose to judge the air in different places. Our experience is that cows are always in a place where the air is fresh, and the air in other places can be kept moist and warm, sometimes even unpleasant due to fecal gas. In the large number of cases we have seen, the behavior started very suddenly. These are all Cases of reconstructing or constructing objects that affect the ventilation of the barn.
Insufficient ventilation can cause more damage and problems than most dairy farmers. Poor ventilation first causes the cow to put more energy into it to cool itself, leading to heat stress. It also creates higher infection stress on bacteria and viruses, leading to more hoof problems and breast infections. In addition, the lack of fresh air leads to higher concentrations of ammonia, which you might think is not suitable for animals.
Farmers who want to improve their barn, should first have an expert (!) set up a ventilation plan for their entire barn. This is the foundation. This also includes a plan with arrangements to manage heat stress.