Milk production is affected when heat and humidity rises.
Milk production of cows can drop by approximately 10 - 35% depending on the heat stress levels of the animals. That is equivalent to a loss of up to $4.55 per cow per day which is significant to a farm's profitability. If those losses across the entire herd continue throughout the entire duration of the summer, there could be devastating effect towards the farm's profitability.
Here are 3 tips to help maintaining the milk production of cows during heat stress:
Step 1: Facility And Management Audit
By ensuring that there is air movement, cattle fans, shade structures, sprinklers, abundant water supply, constant feeding times, bunk management can make a huge difference to the animal's milk production during heat stress. Here are some management tips from Purina Mills.
Step 2: Measuring Heat Stress
There is a good chance that the animals would feel the heat during summer time even though it may not seemed to be very hot to the farmers. Hence, it is vital to identify the signs of heat stress in cattle and understand what are the effects of heat stress on your herd to help prevent its negative effects. Use Temperature-Humidity Index (THI) to help estimate the herd's cooling requirements. It is also important not to neglect the dry cows as research has showed that heat stress can have a long term negative effects on dry cows.
Step 3: Optimising Cow's Nutrition
It is important to work on the reduced feed intake as well as depressed milk production caused by heat stress. Hence, the farmers should adjust the ration in order to meet the increased energy requirements to maintain milk production.