Stock craving water and shade as relentless heat continues

As record summer temperatures look set to continue, an animal expert says the hot weather has the potential to affect milk production in dairy cows.

Weather forecasters say Wednesday and Thursday could see the hottest temperatures of the current heatwave.

AgResearch Senior Scientist, Dr Karin Schütz, said keeping cool is essential to keep production up.

"That can mean providing shelter (such as trees), increasing access to drinking water, reducing walking distances, and preventing stress," she said.

She said the use of sprinklers in milking sheds is also popular to cool the cows as they wait to be milked.

"Research shows that when the air temperature reaches 21degC and humidity more than 75 percent, it can affect the cow's behaviour and milk production could decline," said Dr Schütz.

Meanwhile Federated Farmers Taumarunui President Luke Pepper said farmers will be doing all they can to avoid heat stress in stock.

"It's just that overnight temperature, trying to get it under 15degC, the reumen gets hot and it causes discomfort so if we can cool that down it sets them up for the next day," he said.

He said the biggest risk is prolonged heat, and the scenario could be worrying if the hot temperatures continue for a week.