Managing heat stress to maintain dairy performance during the summer
Rising feed costs and the cost of producing forage are presenting a major challenge to dairy farmers. Improving feed efficiency is therefore crucial to ensure dairy farm profitability. Heat stress is becoming more common. It results in a reduction of dry matter intake in combination with systemic inflammation as a result of “leaky gut”1. Trials including pair fed animals have shown that 50% of the drop in milk production of dairy cows is related to the reduction of dry matter intake, whereas the remaining 50% is the result of systemic inflammation (see Figure 1).
Figure 1, 1. Thermal Neutral Well-fed. | 2. Heat Stress. | 3. Pair-fed.
Changes of the gut wall in animals under heat stress compared to animals in thermal neutral conditions and animals pair fed the same amount of feed as the animals under heat stress.