As the weather warms, the dairy-housing experts at Lely offer these tips for minimizing heat stress in cows. The main effects of heat stress include reduced dry matter intake, reduced milk yield with lower fat and protein levels, reduced fertility and increased water consumption. Therefore, energy intake may decrease to just 75 percent. To evacuate surplus heat, cows will raise their respiration rate and start panting. Together with increased salivation, this reduces buffer capacity and augments the risk of ruminal acidosis. Cows suffering from heat stress spend two to three hours a day less lying down. When standing, it is easier to breathe and evacuate heat. However, together with the increased risk of ruminal acidosis, this increases the chance of hoof disorders later on.
Tips and Tricks
- Check ventilation capacity and increase ventilation rate when necessary (mechanical ventilation)
- Control water management: at least 10 percent of all cows can drink simultaneously from large open troughs
- Check cleanliness of water troughs daily
- It is advisable to feed a special ration (supplemented with additional minerals and vitamins) to the cows at least twice a day (to keep the ration fresh and tasty)
- During hot periods, it is advisable to only have the cows in pasture during the night or during the cool moments (evening, early morning) of the day