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Heat Stress Advice

By P&L Agriconsulting, Aug 22 2020 02:58PM

Topically heat stress has been seen widely throughout the spring summer of 2020, however it is not a problem that only occurs in the summer. A Dairy cow has an optimal temperature range in which is seen to be comfortable, that is between 5C and 15C. Temperature alone is compounded by the humidity when looking at heat stress, how many sheds in the winter are warm, damp and stuffy.


The signs and consequences of heat stress can vary widely, and are not limited to a drop off in milk which is the widely accepted view. Some consequences of heat stress are quite subtle and, therefore, make it harder to realize the full animal welfare impacts and economic damage that may occur if ignored. The consequences of heat stress can include lower dry matter intake, milk fat depression, reduced pregnancy rate, cows calving early, calves with low birth weight, and compromised immune systems, resulting in increases of retained placentas, metritis, and mastitis. Consider these when assessing the suitability of your winter housing.


Collecting yards/milking parlours tend to be the hottest area on dairy farms with overcrowding driving up temperatures. Adding measures to lower the temperature in this key area can pay dividends as cows are frequent visitors to these areas. As such the collecting yard is often one of the easiest and most economical places to start. Add a fan, consider sprinklers; however bear in mind when considering adding sprinklers to the holding pen is that, without proper ventilation, it could turn in to a sauna, by lifting the humidity level.


There is often a higher return on investment for heat lowering measures for dry/transition cows and fresh calvers. Transition cow cooling can help reduce metabolic diseases and improve start-up milk. Cooling high groups can help improve reproduction and peak milk. Improved ventilation/stocking rates should be considered a priority.


For more information please contact Sarah Lea at P&L Agri-Consulting on 07903 021875 or [email protected]


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