To combat the financial impact of heat stress, Jamie Jarrett, dairy nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition, advises that producers consider the following management strategies:
- Invest in shade, fans and sprinklers for both the lactating herd and dry cows, most specifically close-up cows. “Research shows the financial benefits of cooling both groups of cows,” she says.
- Take steps to keep the holding pen cool. Research shows that cooling a cow’s body temperature by 3 degrees F resulted in an increase of 1.75 pounds of milk per cow per day.
- Provide plenty of water. “Cows drink more than you may think in warmer weather. Make sure that water is not a limiting factor on your operation,” says Jarrett.
- Choose a highly palatable energy source. Because intake levels are reduced, it’s very important to feed a concentrated source of energy that is very palatable and appealing to the cow.
- Double check your trace mineral and macro mineral levels. The level of trace minerals and macro minerals in the diet may need to be elevated. Macro minerals can help cows cope with heat stress.
- Keep an eye on potassium levels. During warm weather, cows lose potassium through sweat.
- Raise dietary cation anion difference or DCAD levels to account for warmer weather.