Heat Stress In Your Cattle Herd
Whether your cattle are just for your family or part of a larger business, you want to do everything possible to ensure their health and comfort.
Doing so will provide a higher quality milk, greater quantities and overall better experiences with your cows. However, any heat stress dairy cows experience can put a real damper on your plans and your farms profitability. It is essential that you learn how to deal with it early on!
Here's a Look at What You May Be Missing
What Heat Stress In Cattle Feels Like
Just as the heat of summer can feel oppressive to humans, cows and other animals can experience side effects from the changing seasons. While winter time has problems of its own, the heat stress dairy cows experience during the summer is a concerning event that should not be taken lightly.
This condition occurs when the animal is no longer able to cool her body on her own. Four separate factors contribute to the comfort of your animals, including the temperature of the air.
It is important to recognize that three additional factors are involved, so even if the temperatures are moderate, your cattle could still be at risk for heat stress.
Heat Stress Management Tools Can Be Used
Now If you are in tune with your cattle herd, you are very aware of the fact that you want nothing to do with having any heat stress problems with any of your cows. So how do you manage these conditions?
The best way to do that today is to use some scientific hand held weather meter tools that will through sensors you have set up, help you to know weather conditions that aren’t good for your cattle.
A great example of one of these tools would be my suggestion of purchasing a Kestrel Data Logger to Monitor Heat Stress in Your Cows.
This is a weather meter that is called the Kestrel Drop. This unit is highly successful with monitoring cattle herds properly for you. The alerts you can set up will, alert you to temperature changes, humidity changes and you also will know what little air movement there is in the area of your sensor locations.
To continue on with all of the signs that you need to be aware of to do your best with the cattle heat stress situation with your cows.
If the Humidity Is Bad
The second influencing factor is humidity. As it increases, so does the risk factors for your cows. If you notice that your cows are panting, you are seeing signs of heat stress already. To help alleviate this discomfort, take advantage of the third factor: air movement.
If the animals are stuck inside a barn, the still air can contribute to their ill reactions to heat. Lastly, solar radiation due to poor sheltering options during the day can exacerbate their symptoms and health.
The heat stress dairy cows experience can result in lower milk production. Some animals make a gallon less per day when experiencing prolonged heat stress. This loss in production could be very bad, if not crippling to most dairy farmers.
The lengthening of lactations also contributes to a decrease in fertility. This isn’t very appealing either, since you will be wanting to breed the cow to keep the calving program growing for your farm. These factors can wreak havoc on your plans!
How Very Important Managing the Heat Is
You must manage the heat in order to protect your cattle from these troubling problems. To start with you need to increase higher quality forages during heat stress events.
These are more digestible, which can help for animals already experiencing greater stress. however, you need to make sure that you still supply a sufficient amount of fiber fermentation for optimal health.
You will need to learn more about how your breed responds best to the local climate changes and employ those ratios. Holsteins respond differently than Jerseys, and Guernsey’s are different again.
Water Plays a Vital Part in Good Management
Always make sure that your animals have sufficient water. The water has a dual purpose. First it helps to prevent dehydration; secondly, it acts as an internal cooling agent.
Make sure that each head has at least 25 gallons per day. You should provide water immediately after milking to improve production and health.
You can also use water sprinklers and industrial fans to help keep the animals cooled down. As the water evaporates from their skin, it will help to cool the external temperature and provide them some relief from the blistering heat.
Since cows cannot sweat, this process helps to simulate the act for them.
In conjunction with other relief efforts, you should be able to keep your cattle healthy and happy during the stressful months of summer.
Cramped Quarters Don’t Help Anyone
Don’t forget about providing enough room for your cattle to move freely. Your pens should have enough room that the animals can move and that gentle breezes will waft between them.
Provide a barn or other shelter that the animals can enter when the heat of the sun bearing down becomes too great. Again, make sure that enough room exists for every animal to comfortably fit.
Another way to reduce the stress associated with the summer, is to care for the animals early in the morning. When you have to move, dehorn and vaccinate your animals, make your plans before the sun.
By tending to the care and management needs of your cattle when the weather is the coolest, you will reduce the amount of stress they experience during these essential activities.
No matter what the size of your herd, taking good care of your dairy cows will improve the quality and quantity of milk that your animals produce each day.
By keeping these suggestions in mind you should be able to stave off the worst of the heat and keep your animals cool!