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Economic Effect of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Eric Van der Laan ANSI 4863

The question that I will be asking in this report is the following; what is the economic effect of heat stress on a lactating dairy cow? This is a serious economic issue as the dairy industry annually losses around 900 million dollars and within the state of Oklahoma producers are losing 26 million dollars. When I looked at this question and looking at the different papers that I will be using in this paper it is generally understood that as soon as heat stress is established in the dairy cow that there will be a negative economic effect on the dairy cow due to various reasons such as lost production, lowered Dry Matter Intake (DMI), and lowered reproductive efficiency. This lead me to look into my next question which was is it economically effective to use heat abatement tools to cool dairy cows to a point that lost production is regained and revenue regained will outweigh the cost to cool the cows to that point. To begin I looked at what heat stress actually is defined as in the dairy cow, and the definition that I found was the following. Heat stress is a series of disorders related due to environmental heat exposure based on the following factors temperature, humidity, cloud cover and air flow while another source of heat is from metabolic heat from fermentation of feed in the rumen. The thermal neutral zone for dairy cows is 44 degrees Fahrenheit to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. To measure the amount of heat stress in the dairy cow we use a tool called the Temperature Humidity Index (THI), which is a formula that accounts for the variables of current air temperature and relative humidity. Example 72(0.550.55 * (20% RH/100)) * (72 -58) = 65.84 THI with a 72 degree air temperature and twenty percent relative humidity. Whenever the THI begins to go over 70 the dairy cow will experience mild heat stress and a THI over 90 the dairy cow will begin to have sever heat stress. A chart has been developed to quickly find what the current THI is at a certain time and has been added to the back of this report.

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Economic Effect of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Eric Van der Laan ANSI 4863

The main areas that heat stress has an economic impact on the dairy cow for the dairy farm is lowered milk production, lowered reproductive efficiency, lowered DMI, death loss, and cull cows. Lowered milk production will include not only the lowered volume in overall milk yield, which will average around 15 to 30% reduction in overall milk yield, but includes the lowered overall milk protein and milk fat that will be produced by the cow, although the negative economic impacts from protein and fat will vary by how much premium is placed on these areas by different milk cooperatives. Most farms will also see an increase in overall somatic cell count score as cows will have a weakened immune system from heat stress and therefore will not be able to combat mastitis as well which leads to a higher somatic cell count. The lost production is milk yield is calculated by taking normal herd average subtracting herd average during heat stress multiplied by number of heat stress days multiplied by number of cows divided by 100 times the current milk price. Example ((((70lbs-60lbs) *150 cows)*30 days)/100)*$15.00 milk price = $6750 lost just in milk yield. Dairy producers will also see a reduction in the reproductive efficiency of the cow. Some of the reproductive efficiencies that are reduced in the cow include increased number of artificial inseminations to conception, decreased number of cows pregnant at first A.I. service, increase in the number of embryonic deaths by about 3.7 times. Another effect by reduced reproductive efficiencies is cows are open for more days of the year and the cycle of cows entering and leaving the milking herd is disrupted resulting in a seasonal calving season along with times of peak milk production and low milk production on the farm. The overall cost of no pregnancy will include the price of feeding the cow a lactating diet till the cow becomes pregnant and future lost peak milk production. With average current feed prices the cost to feed a lactating dairy cow from the heat cycle she did not conceive to the next heat cycle will cost around $450 a heat

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Economic Effect of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Eric Van der Laan ANSI 4863

cycle. As we can see due to current increasing feed prices this is a very negative effect having to feed the lactating diet for an additional three weeks, potential milk that is lost in future lactations, and cost of A.I. services. Another area of economic loss in the dairy cow is lowered dry matter intake and other nutritional obstacles. The reason for the lowered DMI is due to the natural responses from the lactating cow trying to reduce heat stress by reducing internal metabolic heat that occurs from the fermentation processes in the rumen. This lowered DMI is one of the reasons that milk production is lowered since the cow is not consuming as much feed that can be converted to milk. To combat this lowered DMI and energy intake a producer may switch to a diet that is higher in concentrates, add rumen inert fat to help increase energy, and overall have more energy in the diet for milk production and combating the negative energy balance. One problem with this although is that this can become an expensive alternative due to the current cost of grain and fat. Another problem with switching to this diet can result in an increase of acidosis in the milking herd, which will negate the positive effects of the switch; this means that we need to be especially careful in adjusting the rumen microorganisms to a concentrate diet. The last main area of economic losses from heat stress for dairy cows is death loss and cull cows. This area can be difficult to quantify has many cows that are lost had other problems or already had high health risk and the heat may be an aggravating factor for cull cows and death loss. Although the cost to replace an average producing dairy cow is around $1500 dollars this does not account for any of the genetics that you may have lost in the herd due to the death loss and needing to replace the cow.

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Economic Effect of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Eric Van der Laan ANSI 4863

Now that we have determined where heat stress has the most negative economic effect on dairy cattle we can start to look at some heat abatement systems and if they are effective enough in regaining lost revenue from heat stress to pay back for the heat abatement system. One thing that a producer will automatically due is to provide plenty of cool fresh drinking water. This will already be done as a lactating dairy cow will already require large volumes of water to produce milk and during the summer will require even more as she will be sweating out large quantities of water. The second most common heat abetment tool is to provide shade for the cows whether this is a tree out in the pasture, metal shades in a dry lot setting, or free stall barns. Shade will also more than likely be provided at the holding pen of the milking parlor. Intensive heat abatement systems in the dairy industry will include the use of large high velocity fan in the barns or shades and or use of high-pressure sprinkler or mister systems. Initial investment for the fans and sprinkler systems will vary depending on the type of fans and sprinklers that will be used and how intensely they will be placed but the research data that was used was based off of average systems. Another cooling system that is currently under much research is cooling cows through convection cooling. I wanted to bring up this system, as it seems to have some applications in the future although the cost of this system is not yet known. In this system a series of pipes are installed under the bedding stalls of a free stall barn and cool water is pumped through the pipes. The theory is that cows lying on the beds will transfer heat from their bodies to the cool water and thereby reducing body temperature in the cow. Initial studies have shown with that this method of cooling cows can reduce the internal heat of cows very effectively but requires and extensive system to be built to take advantage of these methods. As not much research has been

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Economic Effect of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Eric Van der Laan ANSI 4863

done into the cost effectiveness of this area this will not be one of the areas that I will look into economically cooling cows. The main reports/ research papers that I will be looking into whether heat abatement systems on a dairy farm are economically effective will be from a collaborative effort from Kansas State University, University of Kentucky, and Ohio State University as well as many other papers to help to come to a conclusion. My conclusion after reviewing these studies is that yes using heat abetment tools such as fans and misters helps to reduce the current THI to a lower level so that the cow is under less heat stress and regains enough milk production and reproductive efficiencies so that the gain in revenue will pay for the costs of the heat abatement systems. When looking at the chart from the University of Kentucky we see the costs to install and operate a fan and mister system for a forty-eight cow dairy. Taking these numbers and multiplying them by three I got a number that I could compare to the 150 cow dairy that I used to calculate the amount of revenue lost from lowered milk yield milk production. Taking the number of $6750 which is milk production revenue that was lost subtract $4830 for the initial investment of the system and subtract an additional $324 for 800 hours of operation a year you will get a gain in revenue of $1596 based solely on recovered milk production yield and no other factor. When I looked at the much more in depth study from Kansas State we saw gains in benefit and revenue from just reducing the gap between normal production to and the heat stressed milk production by 25% with a benefit to cost ratio of 1.98. When gap was closed to 50% ratio was 3.96 and when the gap was closed completely by 100% the ratio increased to 7.92. The research from Kansas State also showed that cows in later lactations had greater benefits from the heat abetment systems compared to a first lactation cow. The reasoning for this is most likely due to the fact that older cows have higher peak milk potential when compared to a

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Economic Effect of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Eric Van der Laan ANSI 4863

younger cow. Overall by looking at these studies and others I have concluded that yes it is economically effective to reduce the THI for cows to regain lost production and efficiencies that will pay back for the systems that have been installed.

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Economic Effect of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Eric Van der Laan ANSI 4863

References K.C. Dhuyvetter, T.L. Kastens, M.J. Brouk, J.F. Smith, and J.P. Harner. 1999. Economics of Cooling Cows. Presented at 2000 Heart of America Dairy Management Conference. L. W. Turner, R. C. Warner and J. P. Chastain. 2000. Micro-sprinkler and Fan Cooling for Dairy Cows: Practical Design Considerations. D.G. Mayer, T.M. Davison, M.R. McGowan, B.A. Young, A.L. Matchoss, A.B. Hall, P.J. Goodwin, N.N. Jonsson, and J.B. Gaughan. 1999. Extent and economic effect of heat loads on dairy cattle production in Australia Aust Vet J Vol 77, No 12:804-808 J. W. West. 2003. Effects of Heat-Stress on Production in Dairy Cattle. J. Dairy Sci. 86:21312144 K.H. Ominski, A.D. Kennedy, K.M. Wittenburg, and S.A. Moshtaghi Niat. 2002. Physilogical and Production Responses in Lactating Dairy Cows Exposed to Short-term, Moderate Heat Stress. J. Dairy Sci. 85:730-737 N.R. St-Pierre, B. Cobanov, G. Schnitkey. 2003. Economic Losses from Heat Stress by US Livestock Industries. J. Dairy Sci. 86:52-77 Electroinic Supplement University of Minnesota. 2012. Dairy Extension, Feed and Nutrition. Health and comfort. Reproduction and genetics. Review of website content. http://www1.extension.umn.edu/dairy/. Accessed Oct. 28. 2012. Michigan State University. 2012. Dairy Extension Michigan State University Dairy team. Review of website content. http://dairyteam.msu.edu/. Accessed Oct. 28.2012