Article Summary: Dairy farmers need robust strategies to secure cash flow and keep cows milking in hot, dry summers, and due to global warming, this will only continue. Cows producing high yields are more productive and profitable than the ones that do not, even if they are well-fed during the hot weather. Learn how to detect heat stress and implement simple, manageable methods such as shade, proper ventilation, misting, fresh water, and nutrition to keep your mob cool and produce high-quality milk. Consistent milking schedules, breeding strategies, and stress reduction are all important, while satellite-based ag technology can help maximise milk production.
Global warming has become one of the greatest challenges humankind faces today. It does not only affect climate, crops, and energy resources, but it has a significant impact on dairy production. The effect of rising global temperatures on farms and cows is impossible to overstate.
According to nutritional experts, harsh summers and low payouts do not impact only the current season. You will also face challenges for the next season and beyond. This will have a significant financial impact if you cannot keep cattle cool in dry summers.
As a dairy farmer, you need robust strategies to secure cash flow and keep cows milking in the dry summer. In simple terms, cows producing milk are more productive and profitable than the ones that cannot, even if they are well-fed during the dry summers.
Why is it important to keep cows cool in summer?
Keeping cows cool should be the most important task in the summer. Here are the reasons:
As the temperature soars at its peak, cattle can suffer from heat stress. This can cause discomfort and various health conditions. Keeping cattle cool during summer will prevent heat-related diseases and keep them comfortable and healthy.
Cows can experience a decline or decrease in milk production if exposed to excessive heat. Cows divert their energy from producing milk to cope with heat stress.
Rising global temperatures can also significantly impact the reproductive health of cows, potentially leading to reduced fertility rates.
Overheating cattle can cause stress, reducing feed intake and leading to behavioural issues. Stressed animals can provide suboptimal meat quality and lower weight gains in beef cattle.
What is the ideal climate for cows?
Climates have a considerable influence over cattle rearing that can make or break livestock production. The ideal ambient temperature for beef and dairy cattle varies from 5°C to 25°C. It heavily depends upon the humidity levels, wind speed, sunlight exposure, and access to diet and water.
Cows can endure heat stress over this temperature. However, cattle are generally better suited under dry and cold weather conditions than hot and damp ones. Here are the reasons:
The thick coat of hairy skin provides natural insulation and helps cattle handle cold weather. However, cows are more prone to heat stress under humid and hot conditions. This results in lower milk production and food intake.
Dry climates minimise the risks of health issues such as fungal infections and hoof diseases that can be more prevalent in damp environments.
The cold weather typically has an abundant and constant supply of clean and fresh water, which is best for cattle health and milk production. On the other hand, damp climates can be a habitat for disease vectors like flies and mosquitoes, leading to the risk of disease transmission.
High humidity can be challenging for cows to regulate their body temperatures, and the growth of mycotoxins and mould can be prevalent. Both conditions can affect feed quality, discomfort, and health issues.
The cold and dry climates provide more suitable conditions for cattle comfort, health, and milk production. Hot and damp environments can substantially impact both farms and cows' productivity.
Effective methods to keep cows cool and increase milk production
Provide natural or artificial shades to help your cows stay cool under extreme temperatures. Consider planting more trees on your farm to provide shade and form a shelter belt.
Use sprinklers before milking when the temperature is above 25 degrees. Also, sprinkle the dairy holding yard.
Use fans to regulate the airflow after sprinkling the cows.
Monitor the breathing rate of your cows. 40-60 breaths per minute is considered normal. But a cow’s core body temperature is above 39 if the breathing rate is above 60 per minute. A cow is under stress if that rate exceeds 70 breaths per minute.
Monitor your cows for sweat. If it’s profuse, they could be suffering heat stress.
Hose them down with cool water if they are hot. If suffering from heat stress, 20-30 mins at a time per animal, from head to tail, is recommended.
Provide unlimited access for cows to drink fresh, clean, and cold water.
Place troughs in t\\shaded and cool areas.
Only milk or feed them once they are comfortable.
Modify timings of milking; milk cows as early in the morning as possible. In the evening, milk them after 5 pm.
Make sure to increase daily nutrition intake in their diet.
Maintain rumen stability by increasing high fibres in the diet.
How can farming apps can help?
Global warming is a possible threat to cattle rearing in many aspects. The rising temperature impacts the health and comfort of cows. Decreased fertility, reduced milk production, and increased veterinary care can all affect profits, so you must keep your cows comfortable and healthy. To do this, you first need information to hand.
Farming apps with satellite pasture measurement capabilities track crop production and detect animal movement. With satellite flyovers, you can enjoy the speed and quality of high-resolution images sent straight to your phone. Weather data, also collected via satellite, can help you make and manage informed decisions based on weather conditions and forecasts.
This is what Pasture.io does.
Because informed grazing decisions equal higher farm profit. To learn more, head to our website or contact our team of farming experts today!
Until we meet again, Happy Farming!
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 2023-11-15