Did you know that any time the heat index is over 80, cows are at risk? Heat can not only reduce milk production, it can also cause other health issues, such as reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to illness and disease. A Wichita, KS vet offers some summer cow care tips below.
Make sure your cows always have unlimited amounts of fresh water. A single, 1500 pound cow can drink up to 33 gallons a day in weather over 80F. Dairy cows need even more, as they’re more vulnerable to heat stress.
You may need to adjust Bessie’s diet in summer. Your vet may recommend reducing the amount of fats and concentrates to lower the calorie count. Also, make sure your cows are getting enough roughage. Certain minerals, such as potassium and chromium, can be beneficial as well. Ask your vet for specific advice.
Cows should have shade and shelter available at all times. You may have noticed that cows will congregate beneath trees in summer. If you don’t have trees or shelters, you can erect cattle-safe shade canopies.
Misters And Sprinklers
These things can go a long way towards helping your cattle beat the heat. Just don’t place them where they can soak bedding: that’s just asking for mold and mildew.
Focus On High-Risk Cows
Fresh cows are at higher risk of certain conditions, such as mastitis and ketosis, in summer. Be extra careful with pregnant cows, as they could lose their calves if they overheat. Keep in mind that these issues can become serious—and potentially life-threatening—very quickly.
Make Milking Comfy
Milking parlors and holding pens get very hot in summer, especially when they’re crowded. Bringing smaller groups in will reduce cow density and shorten wait times. (Tip: These are great spots for misters or sprinklers.)
Cows get stressed out more easily, which wreaks havoc on their health. Avoid moving or resorting your cattle during those summer heat waves. If you do need to move them, do it in the mornings and evenings.
Air flow is also very important at this time of year. For smaller barns, you may want to try a mix of cooling cells and tunnel-style ventilation. Otherwise, you can use industrial fans. Portable air conditioners may also be an option.
Do you have questions about cow care? Contact us, your local Wichita, KS animal clinic, today!