Temperatures are shifting again and it's time for dairy herd growers to make accommodations. Early preparation to stay ahead of heat management should be on the list of things to do.
Cows are considered homeotherms and they do whatever it takes to maintain a constant body temperature of 101-101.5 degrees. The thermal comfort range for all breeds generally ranges from 30 to 70 degrees.
Heat stress occurs when the cow heats up faster than it can cool off. This may occur due to direct radiation from the sun; indirect solar load from being indoors with little ventilation or air circulation; heat gain due to digestion; and loss of heat through evaporation and convection.
There are several side effects and health concerns associated with heat stress. Effects of heat stress may include:
- Susceptibility to lameness
- Increased breeding problems
- Immunity related diseases such as Laminitis
- Decreased dry matter intake, which can lead to sever weight loss
As temps begin to increase, feeding patterns should be altered. Provide a healthy, yet less dense diet with low fiber during warmer temperatures. This will assist in turning down the internal furnace of cows. Consider the long-term benefits of keeping heat stress low, both the animal and producers stand to win.
It is not too early to prepare for warm weather. Identify potential issues now so that your facility and animals are ready for hot weather.
Click here for a detailed webinar discussing Hot Weather Management in Freestall and Tie Stall Dairies.
Source: Penn State University. (Dan McFarland, John Tyson and David Wolfgang, VMD). (2012). Hot Weather Management in Freestall and Tie Stall Dairies. [Video webcast]. In Technology Tuesdays Webinar Series.