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How woodland creation could help protect the future of your dairy business

28 May 2021

Have you ever thought about the knock-on effects of climate change and what it means for your farm or croft? Long-term changes in the weather bring more droughts and floods, and higher temperatures which can have a big impact on the dairy farming sector because of heat stress in dairy cows.

Cows need to maintain a constant body temperature of around 38.8°C. When ambient temperatures are above 25°C, their performance begins to decline, which can adversely affect the productivity of your business. A new study by the Met Office shows that heat stress in dairy cattle is projected to increase significantly in key dairy regions across South West England and West of Scotland as temperatures rise.

What is heat stress?

Heat stress happens when an animal’s heat load is greater than its capacity to lose heat. Mild heat stress can result in reduced weight gain, decreased fertility and reduced milk yield. More severe heat stress can cause increased morbidity and mortality rates.

Nature-based solutions can help to minimise the risk of heat stress and protect cattle. Pasture and trees can provide additional shade, meaning dairy cattle will be exposed to less direct heat as they are sheltered. Planting ‘shelter belts’ can also help support biodiversity and sequester carbon, so reducing a farm or croft’s carbon footprint.

The Farm Advisory Service (FAS) can provide one-to-one advice on woodland management and climate change mitigation measures to help protect your business. And, the support doesn’t end there – you can get funding of up to £1,000 to help you do this. Specialist advisers can help you choose the right type of woodland to go in the right place for the right reason.

You can find the application form for woodland advice here. To find out more information about FAS services, please call 0300 323 0161 or email

dairy cow holstein lying down

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