How to get your cows
through the summer period
According to forecasts, we will again face a hot, dry summer this year.
For dairy farmers, this results in several challenges: decreasing harvest volumes, decreased feed quality for the following cuts and decreased dairy performance due to heat stress.
Heat stress starts already at 20 degrees
Climate circumstances are often an underestimated problem for high yielding dairy cows.
Starting at 20 °C and high humidity conditions, heat stress negatively influences performance and health of the animals. The cow tries to counteract and decreases feed intake, in order reduce metabolic warmth, consequently resulting in decreased performance, too. The result is a deficiency in energy!
How to recognize heat stress:
- rapid respiration up to panting
- stretched neck and open mouth
- increased water intake
- decreased resting time
- reduced feed intake
Current studies: Additional water supply reduces stress
The effects on the cow result not only from current daily values, but also from the conditions, e.g. temperature and humidity, of previous days (OTTEN et al. 2022). Heat stress over several days increases the negative influence on feed intake and milk yield.
In the current study, however, heat stress over several days partially reduced water intake, contrary to the general assumption. The presumed reason for this was that heifers and weaker animals were pushed away from the drinking places by higher-ranking cows.
It is therefore all the more important to ensure water intake at all times and in sufficient quantities, even for lower-ranking cows, during long periods of heat. By offering additional drinking facilities during these phases, the cows can be positively supported and stress situations can be alleviated.
Conclusion: The duration of heat stress and the availability of water play an important role for dairy cows.
Feeding against heat stress – more concentrates are no solution!
As cows prefer concentrates under heat stress conditions, fibre efficiency tends to decrease, increasing the risk of acidosis. To keep the risk of acidosis but also the displacement of forage amounts as low as possible, rumen-stable fats are recommendable.
Constant performance by rumen-stable fat!
Rumen-stable fats relief the metabolism of the cow as they produce less metabolic warmth, compared to carbohydrates. Trials have shown that performance can be stabilized if components rich in starch are replaced by rumen-stable fats during summer season.