Official meteorological station data underestimate the heat stress on dairy cattle in a tropical environment

ABSTRACT The values of air temperature, relative humidity and Temperature Humidity Index (THI) of one pasture-based milk production farm and from the nearest official weather station were confronted. At the farm, data readings were recorded by an automatic weather station, every five minutes, from February 2015 to September 2016. Then, the hourly average and hourly THI were calculated. The minimum, average, and maximum daily values were selected. The same was done with data from the official hourly weather station data. The minimum and mean temperature in the meteorological station were higher than on the farm throughout the experimental period and in 16 months, respectively. The maximum temperature of the rural property was greater than that of the station in six months. Meanwhile, the minimum, average, and maximum relative humidity of the meteorological station were lower than those of the farm. The minimum THI was higher at the official station and the maximum THI was higher at the farm in every month. Finally, the number of days with a maximum THI equal to or greater than the critical THI was greater on the farm. Thus, official weather station data underestimate the heat stress.