Heat stress not only affects people; it’s hard on cattle too, said a dairy industry expert. The Dairy Heat Stress Road Show, a multi-institutional effort, will hit the road this spring to help producers cope with the problem. Dr. Todd Bilby, associate professor and Texas AgriLife Extension Service dairy specialist at Stephenville, said heat stress on dairies not only affects cow comfort, but also lowers milk production and fertility, which costs the dairy industry millions of dollars annually.
“The Dairy Heat Stress Road Show, financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in collaboration with several universities, is a series of educational programs that has already traveled to Florida and Puerto Rico and will travel next to Texas, New Mexico and California,” Bilby said. “The effort’s purpose is to teach producers how to overcome some of the negative effects of heat stress by implementing strategies such as nutritional changes, hormonal treatments and facility improvement.”
As a part of the Dairy Heat Stress Road Show dairy producers are surveyed about the program and the impact heat stress has on their cows and dairy operation. In the first two programs offered in Florida and Puerto Rico 100 percent of the participants were satisfied to completely satisfied with the program. Just a few of the participants comments indicated that they liked most the discussions concerning, “the impact of heat stress on the dairy cow,” “modes of heat exchange between cows,” and “the improvement of conception rates with embryo transfer.” So far more than 67 percent of the program participants say they will make changes based on the training information.
The next sessions scheduled will run from 10 a.m.- 2:45 p.m. with lunch provided. The 2012 dates and locations are:
• April 3, Southwest Regional Dairy Center, Stephenville, Texas
• April 4, Clovis Civic Center, Clovis, New Mexico
• April 6, Consumer Education Pavilion, Vet Medicine Center, Tulare, California
Topics and speakers from the University of Florida will include Cooling During Heat Stress, Dr. Pete Hansen, distinguished professor; Nutritional Programs for the Heat-Stressed Herd, Dr. Jose Santos, associate professor, and Economics of Heat Stress: Implications for Management, Dr. Albert DeVries, associate professor. Bilby will also speak on Strategies to Improve Reproduction During Summer.
Bilby concluded, “In the survey program participants estimated that dairy heat stress costs their dairy operation approximately $81 per cow per year.”
“In just two Dairy Heat Stress Road Shows held so far over 100,000 cows were represented by dairymen, for losses totaling over $8,100,000.”
Along with on-site instruction, the road show will provide the latest research technology, software tools and proceedings in English or Spanish at each program.
The road show is free and open to the public, Bilby said.
—From Texas AgriLife Extension Service news release