With high temperatures forecast for the coming days heat stress is going to become a problem. Heat stress is a result of both temperature and humidity, so the sun doesn't have to be visible for it to occur. Also with farmers on the way out of drought they are still grazing grass that is stressed and stemmy. This will elevate the risk of heat stress as more heat is produced during digestion. Heat stress can have a negative impact on both production and fertility. Some signs of heat stress include;
- Cows are lethargic
- Decreased yields
- Supressed appetite
Plentiful water supply and access to shade is vital to help prevent dehydration, reduction in milk yield and overall ill health. There are a couple of options available to farmers to help combat against heat stress;
- Set up temporary water troughs in paddocks to increase water supply. Locate these in shaded areas where cows are loafing. Water intakes can increase by up to 20% in hot weather.
- Allow cows access back to sheds for shade and water.
- If tight on grass and feeding silage, milk late in the morning and early in the evening and let cows graze for longer by night. Silage and ration can be fed by day in a shaded paddock with extra water or in sheds.
- Increase energy density of the diet to make up for suppressed intakes and avoid reduction of yields.
- It is also important to remember that heat stress does not only affect cows but it also can have serious implications for younger stock. Heat stress is very dangerous for young calves with undeveloped rumens and in certain cases can cause embryotic death in heifers.
For more information around transition cow diets and preventing against conditions such as milk fever contact Shane Burns (B.Agr.Sc (Hons))on 086 778 7761 or contact your local Roche's Feeds Technical Sales Advisor to discuss your needs today.