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Understanding and mitigating heat stress in NZ dairy cows – Kirsty Verhoek

Kirsty gave an overview of heat stress, measuring and mitigating heat stress and the new research in heat stress within NZ.

In the summer of 2023 Dairy NZ carried out a trial reviewing heat stress, and while this was one of the wettest summer in over a decade, there was significant data including high wind speeds and farms experiencing heat stress at times that was thought was not a summer of risk.

Kirsty shared unpublished data that is focused on the way in which weather forecasts can be used to assess the heat stress risks and the regions that were most at risk. Additionally trials that involved the use of rumen boluses and temperatures to gain indication of events of heat stress.

Bio Kirsty Verhoek (née Hammond) holds a PhD in ruminant nutrition and methane emissions. She spent four years researching and lecturing at the University of Reading, UK, before returning to AgResearch as a Senior Scientist. While balancing family life, she also worked as an agribusiness analyst at BakerAg. Kirsty is now a Senior Scientist at DairyNZ, focusing on farm system development and sector-scale solutions. Together with her husband Nic, three children Isabelle (6), Ferguson (4) and Lachlan (2), they operate a 750-cow sharemilking operation supplying Tatua.

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