Sunday, July 7, 2013

OFI-Volunteers Cow Project: cows rearing and maintenances in Summer

Cow shed to withstand the hot summer in Sirugamani

OFI-Volunteers Cow Project is being implemented by SEVAI in Sirugamani. OFI Volunteers/ Research scholars Eleonore and Ariane are periodically monitoring the cow farm and give suggestions for better management even in summer. The key suggestions being discussed with SEVAI Cow rearing team are the hygiene Handling milking machines, udder cleaning, feeding the animal with adequate quantity and quality, maintaining of quality of milk and hygienic management of cow sheds, quality milk production and calf management. Currently the cow farm area is facing acute summer and shortages of drinking water for cattle etc.Some of the conclusions in managing the cows in such summer were discussed. K.Govindaraju enlightened the OFI Volunteers how SEVAI trains the local farmers and manages the cows in acute summer.It was further discussed with OFI Volunteers and and it was understood, “Hot weather causes heat stress for cows and calves. Thermal stress causes the body temperature of cows to increase. Lactating dairy cows create a large quantity of metabolic heat and accumulate additional heat from radiant energy. Heat production coupled with compromised cooling capability because of environmental conditions cause heat stress in cattle. As a result, the cows have a lower feed intake. This is associated with a decline in milk yield, fertility, and growth rate. In hot weather, cattle generally reduce their feed intake. Although effects are more severe in hot climates, dairy cattle in areas with relatively moderate climates also are exposed to periods of heat stress.  The resultant decrease in milk production and reproductive efficiency can be overcome by   implementation of a program consisting of cooling through shades, ventilation, spray, fans etc, and modifying the feeding practices. The economic benefit should be determined before installation of equipment to reduce heat stress. Heat stress occurs when any combination of environmental conditions. The comfort zone of dairy cows is in the range 10-24°C. High temperatures have a marked effect on the performance of dairy cattle.  Heat stress can cause losses in production of 20 percent or more and reduce conception rates by 10 to 20 percent. In the long term, dairy cattle can be made more tolerant to hot and humid weather conditions by selective breeding. A colored breed such as Jerseys seems to show greater tolerance to heat stress. Jerseys are also better producers of butterfat and protein, while needing a lesser quantity of high-quality feed. Holsteins are less heat tolerant and they require adequate attention in hot weather. The longer side of the cattle shed should have an east-west orientation. This reduces the amount of direct sunlight shining on the side walls or entering the house .There should be adequate facility for cross ventilation to reduce the thermal stress. Simply providing some shade around the cattle shed is a good way of protecting cows from the direct rays of the sun during the day. The most effective shade is from trees and other vegetation. They not only protect the cows from sunlight, but also create a cooling effect by the evaporation of moisture from their leaves. Cattle sheds may remain hot even after the sun goes down. Letting the dairy cows graze out in the night is a good way of helping them lose heat. The energy needs of cattle rise in hot weather, which means they need more feed for energy and maintenance.  In order to address this problem, more nutrients must be packed into smaller volumes of feed. Increasing the energy in the diet can be achieved by increasing concentrates  and decreasing forages in the diet. Added dietary fat is an excellent way to increase energy content   of the diet, especially during summer when feed intake is depressed. Often the amount of crude protein in summer diets must be increased because of lower feed intake.  Feeding good quality roughage into lactating cows in summer is recommended since it reduces heat buildup supplies adequate long fiber in the diet. A combination of wetting, shade and well-designed housing can help to alleviate the negative effect of high temperatures on dairy cows. Careful management, feeding strategies are important in achieving the optimum milk production”. It was further suggested by OFI Volunteers Eleonore and Ariane to fine-tune the cow project management and also calves care as supported by OFI Volunteers. Govin

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