Take action to minimise heat stress impact on milk output

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Length: 202 words; 1-2 minutes

Dairy Cows Grazing Image

Even at temperatures as low as 20°C, heat stress can reduce feed intake, drop butterfats and cut milk yields by up to 20%, warns KW nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe.

“When cows are in direct sunlight or high humidity, even at modest ambient temperatures, cows can suffer the negative effects of heat stress,” she warns. “Symptoms include lethargy, standing rather than lying, a high respiratory rate (+50 breaths/minute), and reductions in feed intake or milk yield of 10% or more.”

Dr Sutcliffe’s advice is to start by reducing exposure to direct sunlight, lowering stocking rates, improving ventilation and increasing access to shade and clean drinking water. Adjust rations to account for lower feed intakes, and consider a combined osmolite–herb extract buffer such as Equaliser Cool Cow to improve cow hydration and salt balance.

Goldenflake image
A 100% rumen-protected fat, Goldenflake can raise yields by up to 2 litres/cow/day.

“Feed higher quality forage or energy-rich moist feeds like Traffordgold wheat-gluten moist feed to raise ration energy density, and reduce acidosis risk using feeds like soya hulls or sugar beet feed to increase digestible fibre intakes,” Dr Sutcliffe continues.

“Rumen-protected fat supplements such as Goldenflake and Butterfat Extra can also help, as will adding a liquid like Molale or Rouxmolflo Plus to increase palatability, encourage intakes and reduce sorting.”

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