As summer is approaching, dairy farmers need to be on the lookout for any changes in the cow's behaviour, forage quality and feedbunk stability. These changes are usually a result of increased environmental temperature and relative humidity.
Dairy Cow Challenges
During heat stress, the cows face a lot of challenges. If there is no good environmental heat abatement strategies for dry, transition and lactating cows, consequences include:
Low dry matter intake (DMI)
Loss of body condition
Reduced milk yield
Lower rumen pH
Acidosis related problems
Loss of body condition
Decreased pregnancy rates
Lower calf birthweight
Hence, it is very clear that there are strong financial incentives to invest in the necessary heat abatement strategies to ensure optimal cow comfort and well being to maintain performance.
Ration And Feeding Evaluations
Many cows will undergo some form of heat stress, ranging from mild to severe. Knowing the rumen will be compromised due to subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA), many farms will focus on making sure highly digestible forages are available.
Many farm teams will add research-proven, rumen specific active dry yeast (ADY) probiotic in order to help optimise rumen function. The advantages of ADY probiotic include:
Decreased rumen lactate levels
Enhanced rumen pH
Improved ration neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFd) with higher milk component yield and feed efficiency
Besides adding ADY probiotic, it is also recommended to add in-feed sodium bicarbonate and potassium carbonate in the TMR to help meet highly positive dietary cation-anion needs.
Feedbunk surfaces should be kept clean at all times. It is common for farms to switch to twice-daily feeding schedule during the summer.
Avoid Hot Feed
Cows do not like hot feed.
As environmental temperature rises, aerobically unstable ensiled feedstuffs and moist commodities can undermine TMR quality, DMI, rumen function as well as milk yield.
When aerobically unstable feed are mixed into the TMR, spoilage yeasts have access to fresh supply of highly digestible nutrients.
This will make the yeast grow even more rapidly, causing the ration to heat.
This problem is compounded when consumed by a heat-stressed cow, reducing the milk production and yield.
The best solution is to ensure the ensiled forage and high moisture grain inventories are treated with FDA approved forage inoculant at the time of harvest using the recommended effective application levels.
Although there are many improvements on heat abatement strategies on farms, cows still faced some form of heat stress.
With research proven technologies such as ADY probiotics and forage inoculants, coupled with good management practices, dairy farmers are able to help cows combat increased temperatures during the summer.