Heat Stress In Dairy Cattle

Annabelle Staveley, our trainee nutritionist is out on farm with our Ruminant Specialists. This week, she reports on heat stress in Dairy cows...

Annabelle Staveley, our trainee Nutritionist, filmed the following video on heat stress when she was out on farm with one of our Specialists.  This is what she reported...

Last week I was able to enjoy the sunny weather and to see first-hand the approach our specialists take to looking at the herds we manage. However, the hot weather doesn’t come without some consequences - heat stress being one of them.

I took the video below, when it was around 20 degrees, in a big open and breezy shed. Heat stress can hugely reduce herd performance.

Cows will start panting and drooling (as you can see these cows are doing). Milk production is limited because of the increased energy the cow has to use for heat regulation. It's similar to how we wouldn’t be able to do a workout in a jumper on a really hot day. They cannot produce high yields of milk if they are too hot.

Luckily, we have the ability to be able to take off a layer, instead cows reduce the heat being produced by their body’s by reducing their activity and changing their feeding routine. Heat production mainly comes from rumen fermentation and therefore the cow will reduce her dry matter (DM) intake. This will reduce rumen activity, reducing heat.

Water is also a major factor. Even the low yielding cows will drink 100 + litres per day. Milk is made up of approx. 87% water, cleaning water troughs regularly encourages the cow to drink more to drive milk production.

There are so many effective ways of reducing heat stress, it shouldn’t be a limiting factor in your herds production, so please get in touch with your Ruminant Specialist if you'd like to find out more!


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