October 10, 2016

Heat stress and fresh cows do not mix. During this period, intakes drop, immune systems crash, and acidosis ensues. We are left with broken cows, costly metabolic disease, and lower production. To make matters worse, due to the negative impact of heat on reproduction, many dairies experience calving slugs during the summer months. So now we add social stress on the already compromised close-up cow. What can we do to help the fresh cow?

Try to lessen the impact of heat stress on close-up cows. Provide cooling, Sprinklers and fans over a shaded feed area. Place fans over bed pack and free-stall housing. Florida studies show the benefits of dry cow cooling on peak milk, colostrum quality, calf viability and the calf’s future milk production. Spread the close-up and fresh cows out by providing 100-150ft2 bed pack space per cow, 30″ feed bunk space per cow, 80% free-stall stocking density, 4″ water trough space per cow.

Increase the nutrient density of the ration. Feed during the late evening and early morning hours. Keep close-up metabolizable protein at 1400g per cow and check blood total proteins. Address calcium concerns in the close-up ration. Use immunomodifiers that will help stimulate the cow’s immune system, like Omnigen and a new injectable product called Imrestor by Elanco.

Finally, use bandaid treatment after the cow calves. Treat with calcium and propylene glycol. We have received positive comments from clients using Bovikalc boluses. Pump with 10-15 gallons of water with drench mix containing calcium propionate and electrolytes. Heifers that exert themselves through a hard calving need calcium and propylene glycol as well. During the difficult calving, exertion heat production will cause body temperatures to sky-rocket. Soak those cows until their core body temperature reaches a normal level.

Use preventative management and bandaid treatments to help your fresh cows survive and thrive through heat stress.