Managing Heat Stress in Cattle
Usually a topic for late summer, but we felt compelled to start talking now! In a matter of two weeks, the climate has shifted from cold and snow to full-blown summer heat. While you might be relieved to feel the warmer temperatures, the sudden swing is very stressful on cattle. Calves can experience heat stress when temperatures rise over 20 °C, and cows over 4 °C. Care should be taken for both adults and newborns, as they are very susceptible to getting sick if not kept cool!
Benefits of Keeping Cattle Cool:
- Higher volume and quality of colostrum
- Improved milk production over the lactation
- Less disease risk in cows: retained placenta, metritis, milk fever, ketosis, displaced abomasum, pneumonia, mastitis
- Less disease risk in calves: scours, pneumonia, dehydration
- Improved weight gains in calves, and reduced weight loss in adults
- More vigorous calves that drink better and are more active
Some Tips for Calves:
- Provide shade for calves (and cows) on pasture, or even if they are in hutches
- Calves in hutches should be allowed space to walk outside
- Face hutches north or east to be out of the direct sun, and elevate the back of the hutch by 6” to allow cool airflow
- Provide clean water free choice even to calves a few days old!
- Keep feed fresh. Change daily to avoid spoilage and decreased dry matter intake
- Calves in confinement should have adequate ventilation and fans
- Keep up the fresh, dry bedding to avoid bacterial accumulation in the environment
If you have any questions on this or other topics, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Veterinarians.