Heat stress is a problem that occurs when the temperature becomes so high that a cow is no longer capable of maintaining its own body temperature. The ideal temperature for a dairy cow is between -5 and 18°C and if that is exceeded the cow will exhibit decreased activity. The cow will sweat and cough to disperse heat. The cow will consume less food and move less in order to limit heat production. Ultimately, this leads to decreased body weight and diminished milk production
Proper stable management is of crucial importance to properly combat heat stress. Proper climate in the stable and access to drinking water are essential for supporting animals during periods of increased temperature. MS Schippers offers the building blocks for supporting animals during periods of heat stress.
The availability of sufficient, cool drinking water (10 to 15°C) is of vital importance. Water keeps the animals cool and they all must have unlimited access to it. Be sure that all drinking locations have sufficient water and that the nipples are yielding the necessary amount. For the stable, we recommend 1 drinking trough (more than 20 litres per minute) for every fifteen cows or one stock tank (of more than 50 litres and more than 30 litres per minute) for every twenty cows at the minimum. Also, make sure that the cows have access to enough water during or directly after milking.
Adjusting the feeding times can have a positive effect on the cow: when feed is digested, a good deal of heat is released, so feeding the animals at cooler times of day will increase their food intake. This keeps the food fresh for longer and less fermentation will occur. A preservative can also be used to prevent fermentation in the feed alley (MS Wetfeed DF).
Fans can be provided for good air circulation in a cattle stable; this will keep the temperature of the stable in check and limit the effect of warmth on the cow. The location, size, and number of fans is essential for proper results. Please contact us for a personal consultation!
Germs develop more quickly in warm weather; this results in a higher than normal chance of infection in the stalls. Therefore, it is important to keep the stalls clean and dry in order to minimise the risk of infection. In addition to the regular replacement of the straw bedding, sanitary powders can be used to keep the stalls dry (MS DryCare).
Heat stress causes cattle to eat less raw feed. They rest less frequently, which results in less rumination; this is how the possibility of rumen acidosis arises. To reduce the risk of rumen acidosis, a buffer can be used to keep the acid levels of the rumen in check (MS Rumen Support).
When a cow is overcome by the heat, it will lie down less because it can cool off better when upright. This causes the claws to be overloaded, which increases the risk of claw issues. By sufficiently ventilating the stable and providing access to water, the risk of lameness is decreased.
Heat stress in calves
Calves can also suffer negative effects at the hands of high temperatures. A decrease in feed intake and an increase in energy use for the cooling process cause their conditions to deteriorate and stunts growth. Adding vitamin C to their diet will aid their immune systems and up their feed intake (MS C Liquid).