Yes, farmers with CowKühlerZ are finding that their cows are suffering from fewer incidents of lameness.
When a cow is heat stressed she stands more or perches in her stall looking for a respite from the heat because it is easier for her to breathe heavily when standing. This causes more stress on her hooves which in turn causes more instances of lameness, abrasions, bruising other injuries that decrease overall hoof health and increase the number of visits the hoof trimmer needs to make to your farm. Heat stress-related lameness issues don't often surface till later in the year, which makes it difficult to diagnosis the original issue. Cooling the cows in their stalls encourages them to spend more time laying in the comfort of the stalls, ruminating and making you more milk.
Fall Lameness can result from summer heat stress, by Tom Bass, Progressive Dairy.
The significance and long-term effects of heat stress are sometimes underestimated; this problem is not just confined to Southern herds. A four-year study in Wisconsin revealed a very consistent and repeatable pattern between rising summer temperatures and increased claw horn lesions. Each year, lameness problems consistently peaked two to 2½ months after the summer’s hottest weather.
As heat stress intensifies, cows breathe faster in an attempt to dissipate heat, sometimes to the point of panting or open-mouthed breathing. These increased respiratory rates are almost invariably accompanied by an increase in standing time.
Hot cows stand more – Wisconsin researchers showed that even mild heat stress increased standing time by approximately three hours per day. This is a critical component of the fall lameness challenge.
California and New Zealand researchers suggest hot cows stand more to increase the amount of skin (surface area) exposed to air and thus facilitate better convective and/or evaporative cooling. Furthermore, it is the author’s opinion that heat-stressed cows stand more because they can pant more effectively.
As a cow’s body contour changes when lying down, her lung capacity could be somewhat restricted by her rumen and abdomen as they push forward towards her chest. Standing relieves this pressure, so cattle may then be able to more easily exchange a greater volume of air and, thereby, more effectively get rid of body heat in the process.
How do we address these challenges?
Most importantly, minimize heat stress by providing a cool, shaded, well-ventilated environment with adequate access to feed, water and comfortable bedding areas, so that animals are not standing for excessive periods and are maintaining normal eating patterns.
For the lactating cows, prioritize your heat abatement measures first and foremost in the holding pen. On most dairies, this is the hottest environment the cows experience, and time spent therein typically accounts for a substantial amount of daily heat gain. Remember that hot cows spend more time standing.
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