Have you ever thought about the effects of heat loading on your cattle’s production?
Heat stress affects milk production and income, and its impact on cow fertility, health and welfare lasts well beyond the seasonal hot weather. The good news is, we can help you prevent it!
In Western Australia, moderate stress causing heat loading can begin as early as Oct - December, getting more severe in January and February and can linger through to April.
There are multiple factors that influence heat loading in cows:
Coat type and colour
Younger animals have a higher heat tolerance
Cows that are fed more grain, produce more heat
In general cows can cope well until the temperature humidity index becomes critical. Signs of heat loading over a period of days include;
Searching for shelter
Refusing to lie down
Reduced feed intake
Crowding water troughs
More severe signs of heat loading include:
Open mouthed breathing
Collapsing and even death
A simple economic analysis of a herd of 400 cows located at Warrnambool without any management systems in place to control heat stress in the herd, shows the costs of heat stress to be considerable. With a summer milk price of 32 cents per litre, and a range of 0.5 to 1.0 litres per THI unit above 72 in reduced milk production, the likely costs associated with heat stress in this herd is between $8960 and $17920.
This cost does not include those associated with reduced component tests, reduced reproductive performance or any increase cell counts associated with stress. The same analysis showed that with good control of heat stress losses associated with heat stress were reduced to $2048 to $3968. Source http://wvc.com.au
There are a few methods that can be used to cool down cows during heat loading and improve production:
Milk cows 2 hours later in the afternoon
Sprinkle cows before milking
Feed them a mixture of conserved feeds during the day and giving them access to quality pasture at night
Add salt to their diet to replace the sodium and potassium lost during sweating.
These are all small incremental changes that can be made to improve production. Providing shade is by far the most effective type of cooling system.
Why chose a structural steel livestock shelter?
They offer significant protection from both solar radiation and wet conditions.
They improves the operating environment for milking staff
The lifespan is much longer than a shade cloth structure.
Providing a livestock shelter for your cattle improves their welfare, lowers their stress and the cattle become easier to handle. Processing cattle with vaccinations, ear tagging etc can be strenuous enough, let alone in the harsh summer heat.