What happens to a cow when she is heat stressed?

When cows experience heat stress a variety of complex metabolic functions are impacted. The end result of heat stress is a drop in feed intake and milk production. But what does the cow actually go through metabolically because of heat stress? Dehydration • Water is required to carry and distribute nutrients and provide fluid for the fetus. • Water will be utilized for managing heat stress first, then maintenance systems. • Dehydration reduces fluids and nutrients transferred to the cells. • 7 – 8 percent dehydration levels show impaired immune response.   Circulatory and Nutrient Disruption • Blood flow is directed to the surface layers of the body to cool, putting the digestive system at risk of becoming hypoxic (low oxygen). • Intestinal toxins can enter circulation and cause inflammation and poor health. • Cells and tissues are deficient in required nutrients and don’t function properly. • Potassium depletes due to low feed intake, sweating and dehydration.   Reduced Feed Intake • Digestion increases body heat so cows will eat less in an attempt to manage. • Heat stress accounts for a 50% drop in feed intake while decreased feed intake accounts for 50% of the drop in milk yield. • Bout feeding during cooler periods of the day creates risk of acidosis.   Reproductive Compromises • A nutrition deficit contributes to prolonged postpartum anestrus and impairs follicular maturity. • Inadequate nutrient intake reduces body condition score and finally cessation of estrus cycles. • Cumulative effects of heat stress events can compromise the success of gestation year round.   As you can see, heat stress really is stressful on...
ANC is a “spoke” on the wheel of farm management

ANC is a “spoke” on the wheel of farm management

“I always look at the farm as a spoked-wheel.  I, as a manager, am the hub, and all of the good people working with me are the spokes.  If the spokes are broken, the wheel won’t work,” said Paul Norrbom, owner of Norrbom Farms LLC. He believes that each person involved in his operation is important to its success. Paul has been working with ANC Independent Consultant, Bill Keough since 1995 on his 200-cow registered herd in Wittenburg, Wis.  “Bill and ANC are definitely a big team part of that spoked-wheel,” explained Paul. On the ANC program, Paul feeds his lactation cows a diet of approximately 2/3 corn silage and 1/3 haylage on a dry matter basis. He uses ANC TMR Base with Rumensin and Micro NRG.  Cottonseed, corn gluten feed, fine ground shelled corn, and a supplement mix containing canola meal, soybean meal, corn distillers and other ingredients, are also added to the TMR. Norrbom Farms LLC is currently producing 90-95 lbs. of milk per cow, with a dry matter intake of 56 pounds, and milking two and a half times per day. Recently, under ANC and Bill’s direction, Paul switched to a lower energy dry cow diet to solve the fresh cow problems that he was seeing on his farm.  “Vet bills are one-third of what they used to be since we put the low energy diets into place,” explained Paul. Along with the low energy diet, Paul also made a more conscious effort to keep heifers from becoming over-conditioned and calving in at 24 months.  He is seeing significant improvements in pregnancy rates among heifers.  “The...

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot! Heat Stress and the Dry Cow

Cows are most comfortable when the temperature humidity index is below 68°F. Above this temperature the cow experiences heat stress. In lactating cows, the result is a reduction in milk production, reduction in dry matter intake and a change in her metabolism. High producing cows are at a greater risk of heat stress than lower producing cows because they produce more heat in the process of digesting feed to make milk. For this reason one would think that heat stress could be less of an issue for dry cows. However, researchers have shown that heat stress can have a profound impact on dry cows. A dry cow that experiences heat stress can have a reduction in milk yield in the next lactation by as much as 10 lbs./day. These cows have decreased mammary tissue development which may explain the milk loss. In addition, heat stress has been shown to impair the immune status of the cow, increasing her risk of disease. The impact of heat stress on a dry cow also impacts the calf she is carrying. Heat stressed cows have a gestation period that is on average 4 days shorter. These cows also have compromised placental development. This can result in fetal hypoxia such as a  shortage of oxygen to developing fetus, fetal malnutrition and fetal retardation. The resulting calves are 10 to 15 lbs. lighter at birth and have compromised immune function from birth to weaning. Signs of heat stress in dry cows include rapid and shallow breathing, open mouth breathing, sweating, decreased intake, and increased body temperature. If 5 out of 100 cows in the group...
ANC, Family and Cows…

ANC, Family and Cows…

Determined and driven to help others, 11 years ago, Ethan Kunkel of Kempton, Pa. found himself as an ANC Consultant. It was not mere will that lead him to this career, but the passion and drive to help those he cared about strive to have an excellent herd like his own. Before implementing the ANC program on his herd at Sunnyside Farm, Kunkel struggled with low production, poor breeding and a high mortality-rate within the first 60 days of milk on his 210-cow dairy farm. However, since starting with ANC, he can proudly say his reproduction is among the top five in Pennsylvania with Select Sire Power. When Kunkel started using ANC products himself, he started solely with the regular calf milk replacer. It was not long before he saw tremendous health improvement with his calves, so he started using ANC’s calf feed and eventually added Micro N-R-G Plus to the feed. With each one of these additions to his calf program, his calves were healthier and growing faster. Kunkel’s first-calf heifers had been calving in at 26 months of age, but as soon as he enhanced his calf program, they were calving in at 24 to 25 months. When Roger Heller, a good friend of Kunkel, became ill, Kunkel asked him if he needed part-time help with his consulting business. Heller said ‘yes,’ and Kunkel soon inherited three or four customers. “I got sucked in,” said Kunkel. “I tried to help people I knew in the community that wanted help and wanted to succeed.” When ANC proposed their All Milk 26:15 milk replacer, he jumped right on the...

Tips for Late Harvesting of Forages

Harvesting forages in a timely manner is critical to making highly digestible forage that will support high levels of milk production.   Sometimes cutting of forages is delayed  due to weather, breakdowns, or other unplanned events.   When cutting is delayed what are the options to improve forage quality? The options depend on the type of plant.   Forage legumes like alfalfa and red clover grow like a tree.   As they get more mature the plant stem becomes “woody” and less digestible.  However, the quality of the leaves is relatively consistent regardless of plant maturity.   When forage legumes become mature, increasing the mowing height so that more of the woody stem is left in the field will improve the quality of the feed harvested.   The stubble that is left in the field will die and fall to the ground and not impact the quality of the next cutting. Grasses grow differently.   In grass, the quality of the forage is similar from the tip of the leaf to the ground.  When grass matures, the whole plant declines in quality, so altering the cutting height will not improve forage quality.   There are very few options to improve the quality of the mature grasses.  However, one way to use up mature grasses is to store them so they can be utilized in non-lactating rations.   Mature grass can be a good source of forage fiber for growing heifers and perhaps dry cows. Developing a comprehensive forage management strategy is an effective way to get the most value out of your forages.   ANC consultants are trained to develop customized comprehensive forage management programs.  Why not start...