Abstract for: Understanding the dynamics of cows' response to extreme heat events

Understanding the farm animals' response to extreme heat events is a crucial research area in animal sciences to increase knowledge and prevent and mitigate the adverse effects of heat stress on animals' productive performance. The mathematical models built in this area, in general, are empirical and mechanistic, and overlook heat accumulation in the animal body, leading to nonlinear and delayed responses. In this study, using the accumulation mechanism of stock variables, we model the heat stress response of dairy cattle using system dynamics. The structure of the model is inspired by causal loop diagrams explaining the room temperature adjustment mechanisms in system dynamics literature. The application and parametrization of the model are demonstrated with real-life data collected from a farm in Sardinia, Italy. The results show that our model fitted the observed data with high accuracy, reasonably capturing the changes in milk production levels of cows under heat stress conditions. The model can identify heat-sensitive cows, helping farmers and decision-makers develop more efficient mitigation and prevention strategies.