Heat stress can impact lactation performance in the long and short term. Here are 10 useful management tips to help stay cool!
Provide plenty of shade: cows will have lower respiration rates, body temperatures and less aggression than those without shade.
Clean your water troughs. Cows water consumption can easily double in times of heat stress. Clean water will help encourage cows to drink more and stay hydrated.
Feed during cooler hours of the day; cows don’t like to eat hot feed! By feeding at dawn and dusk when temperatures are cooler it allows the cattle to eat when the feed is fresh and cool and ruminate when temperatures are hotter.
Keep an eye on dung consistency. In times of heat stress the rumen isn’t functioning efficiently leading to loss of nutrients. Diets may need to be reformulated to achieve optimum nutrition when DMI are decreased.
Always ensure access to feed. When cows are hot, they will eat little and often to prevent large increases in temperature from large meals.
Use sprinklers, soakers and fans. Talk to Harpers Farm Supplies about housing for hot weather. They can offer advise on where is the optimum place to locate fans.
Reduce time in holding pens. In the holding pens the cows are very close together and are heat fast. This is due to reduced airflow and space.
Don’t lock up during midday. Cows will move away from areas that are too hot but only if there is space to do so.
Feed more digestible high quality forages. As DMIs will be reduced and rumen function not at its optimum cows will need a very digestible feed to gain the nutrients they need.
Use a yeast! Harpers are proud users and suppliers of Levucell yeast. By using yeast you will be helping the rumen function at its optimum as it aids the breakdown of fibre and removes acid. This helps to alleviate acidosis risks and decease body temperature. Acidosis is a big risk during heat stress as when the cows are trying to dissipate heat they pant and drool reducing the saliva entering the rumen to buffer the acid production.
As always, a happy cow means a happy farmer!!