In the Netherlands and large parts of Europe the 2020 heatwave is officially a fact. These are the proverbial ‘dog days of summer’. Long traffic jams to the beaches everywhere; we are all looking to cool off. In the countryside life isn’t that bad. In the shade of a tree, with a breath of wind. But what about your cows? A cow is affected by the heat from 21 degrees Celsius and up.
A cow maintains its body temperature by sweating and panting. If the weather is too hot, in combination with a high humidity, the cow will no longer effectively loose her heat and will start to breathe faster and pant with open mouth. She will drink more water but will lose a lot of fluids through sweating, panting and excessive salivation.
She will also absorb less food and uses a larger part of her food intake to combat the heat stress. Rumen acidosis is lurking. This of course is at the expense of milk production and in long term can also lead to reduced disease resistance and health problems such as mastitis and swollen heels.
A decrease in milk yield, especially in high-yielding cows, is one of the most noticeable consequences of heat stress. Not only the number of liters will decrease, the fat en protein contents will also be lower. On average production can fall by about 5%.
A high-yielding cow is more likely to suffer from heat stress than an animal late in lactation. Nevertheless it is important to keep a close eye on your dry cows. They are preparing for calving and a new lactation and need to keep their energy levels up for the coming period.
It is important to cool your cows. Various measures can be taken in order to do so. The cow will drink more to try and cool down her core temperature. In severe heat stress the water intake of a productive cow can reach up to 200 liters per day. Provide clean, fresh drinking water with a fast supply; no less than 40 liters of water per minute if possible.
The Pingo drinking trough is ideally suited to provide several cows with fresh water. The drinking trough has a large surface and is available in 3 sizes with a capacity of up to 150 liters. Especially at high temperatures it is important to keep a close eye on the quality of the water and the cleanliness of the trough. In their heat stress checklist the Dutch Health Service for Animals (GD) advises to check the drinking water supply twice a day.
The Pingo drinking trough makes cleaning easy. The bottom slightly slopes towards the large outlet – almost 9 cm. in size – so that any feed or other pollution easily flows out with the water when emptying the trough. The float cover can be removed without any tools and is also easy to clan
In order to dissipate her heat, the cow will stand longer which may cows problems for her hocks. The right cubicle surface or matting can help her get rid of the heat and she will thankfully make good use of it. A Dual waterbed supports the cow in dissipating her heat by transferring it to the cool concrete surface. This makes the waterbed much more comfortable than any other cubicle bedding. In warm weather it is also very important to keep the bedding extra clean and dry to reduce the bacterial load.
Typical for the waterbed is that, if no animal lies or stands on it, it always returns to its original convex shape. This shape causes moisture to run off the waterbed. As a result, the waterbed is drier and more hygienic than other forms of cubicle matting, without much extra labour.
Shade, insulation and ventilation are also important. At extremely high temperatures you might even try soaking the cows and cooling them with fans.
Are you interested in the Pingo drinking trough, the Dual waterbed or other measures against heat stress? Your Spinder dealer will gladly help and advise you.