During summer, cows will experience heat stress which will cause a loss of appetite and drop in milk production. Here are 10 tips to help beat the heat and alleviate heat stress:
1) Plenty of water
Cows that are producing more milk will require more water.
Ensure there are plenty of fresh water available for the cows at all times.
Make sure there is at least 3 inches per cow in the pen space along the water trough to reduce competition among cows.
Studies have shown that there is an increase in milk production for cows that were offered shade in pasture.
Besides high producing cows, make sure to include and offer heifers and dry cows shade as well.
Sprinklers combined with fan is one of the most effective ways to remove heat in most commercial barns by using evaporation to help cool cows.
A good sequence is to have the sprinklers on for about 3 minutes and then allow the fan to evaporate the water and cool the animals.
During dry climate, farms are encouraged to use misters attached to fan to help provide evaporative cooling of air in the barn.
Misters will provide fine spray that is designed to evaporate before settling on the beds.
These systems work well in low humidity and high airflow areas.
Avoid using these systems in high humidity and closed environments.
6) Feeding fats
Decrease concentration and supplement fats such as rumen bypass fats can help to increase energy density of diet while decreasing heat produced by fermentation.
However, do not increase fats above 6.5% of dry matter.
Decreasing forage content or feed higher quality forage will also help to reduce heat from fermentation.
7) Fresh cows
During summer, fresh cows are more likely to be affected by mastitis, ketosis and other diseases because cows will eat less during this period and immune function will be lower.
Focus on the fresh cows and diagnose these problems early and address them quickly.
With heat stress, it is even more crucial to diagnose the problem early.
8) Holding pen
One of the hottest place in the farm is the holding pen due to high density of cows.
Make sure there is enough space between the cows to radiate heat.
Holding pen should also have fans and sprinklers to help alleviate heat stress.
9) Don't add stress
Do not do anything that adds stress to the cows.
Do no overwork the cows, move them repeatedly or give vaccinations on hot days.
10) Tunnel ventilation
One of the most effective ways for smaller farms is to use a combination of cooling cells and tunnel ventilation.
This will help decrease temperature of barn by up to 10 degrees.
However, this method is not suitable for large scale facility.