It’s Getting Hot Out There!
It’s June already and despite the very wet spring, it appears that summer is on its way. Of course, with all of the work that comes along with summer time sunshine, comes summer time heat and heat stress on people and animals. With cattle having a rumen, a natural heat source due to fermentation taking place, we all know about the challenges heat and humidity have on cattle from lowered fertility, decreased milk weights and components, and increased mastitis risks, to increased challenges during the transition period, poor growth, and increased risks of death. Heat stress is something that should be thought about and managed at all ages and stages of production.
Milking cows are typically our primary concern as they are the ones producing milk and making money, so it is important that we keep them comfortable. There are more areas in the adult herd that we need to concern ourselves with as it relates to heat abatement. According to Dr. Jeff Brose of Cargill’s article “Heat Stress Relief for Dairy Cows”, these other areas that should be prioritized for heat abatement should include holding pens, dry cow housing, maternity pens, and hospital pens. Heat abatement in these areas should include the same things as the milking herd with the use of low pressure sprinklers over the feed bunk and fans appropriately placed over resting areas and even the feed bunk, if able, to aid the evaporative cooling process even further. If you can’t do both fans and sprinklers in any of these areas, including the freestall barn, it’s important to go with sprinklers. Sprinklers alone will do more to cool cows through the evaporative cooling process than fans by wetting the hide and drying than moving air alone. While cows can produce sweat, they don’t sweat like humans do when they get hot and therefore need additional measures to provide the same effect that sweating does.
Youngstock are another area of importance that often get forgotten about when it comes to heat stress and heat abatement. When unweaned calves become heat stressed, they reduce the amount of dry matter intake they consume, increase respiration rates and increase water intake, which affects growth rates and daily gains and can even lead to more susceptibility to illness and even death. Calves in hutches that sit in direct sunlight can be greatly affected as the hutches become like little ovens baking calves inside. Some simple heat abatement measures for calves in hutches can include raising the rear end of the hutch with a tire or cinder block to allow more air movement through the hutch. Placing hutches in shady areas or putting up some type of shade cloth can also keep temperatures in hutches much cooler than in direct sun. Always make sure that calves have plenty of cool, clean water available at all times throughout the day and night. For calves in barns, the use of a positive pressure ventilation tube that provides 60 air changes per hour is a great way to help keep calves cool, especially on days with more stagnant air movement.
Heifers from weaning age up through breeding and early pregnancy are also either forgotten or more difficult to provide heat abatement strategies due to the low-cost housing they sometimes have. Providing adequate areas of shade, and air movement where able can certainly help keep these animals cool. The use of fans and even misters with intermittent on-off cycling can provide additional cooling without causing excessive wetness.
For animals that have more open housing, including many beef cow/calf operations, it is important to provide cool areas near waterers, feed bunks and resting spots. Around some of these areas, you should provide some concrete so that animals aren’t constantly standing in mud as they will tend to congregate in those areas that are cooler, especially around water tanks. If you are able to provide some type of portable shade, this will allow you to move the shaded areas so that the animals aren’t always in resting in the same spot. Trees can provide shade but they are short-term as they often die from animals constantly congregating in those areas exposing roots. This also poses risks of injury to the animals as the dead trees can potentially uproot and fall on animals trying to find shade underneath. For those animals on pasture, the use of a portable ground sprinkler system with a timer setup can also be used to keep animals cool by wetting them down like those systems in a freestall. It also provides the added benefit of watering the pasture grasses to keep them growing, especially during times of decreased rainfall. While portable shade and sprinklers are likely more labor intensive, they provide great excellent sources of heat abatement for those groups of animals that are often forgotten about.
With summer months just around the corner, make sure that you have heat abatement strategies in place for all of your animals. Be sure to keep them maintained, functioning properly throughout the warm/hot seasons because if they aren’t then you are just throwing money to the wind.
Check Out Our MyPharmStore Online Pharmacy!
Don’t forget that you can now order prescription medications and other non-prescription supplies on our online store. Go to River Valley Veterinary Clinic’s website and click on the MyPharmStore tab and order today. It only requires a credit or debit card to purchase and we are competitively priced against other online stores. Plus, all of your orders go directly through River Valley so there is no need to send a prescription off to a company that doesn’t know you or your animals. If you have questions need help placing an order, or can’t find a particular item please call the clinic and we’ll be happy to help you.
Banamine Transdermal Is Available At RVVC
Merck has released a topically applied Banamine for beef animals and dairy animals less than 20 months of age. It is easily applied by pouring over the top line similar to that of pour-on deworming products. With one dose it goes to work quickly reducing fever due to bovine respiratory disease and alleviating pain caused by issues of foot rot. Talk to one of the doctors at RVVC to find out more about how it works and how and when to apply it.