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Int J Biometeorol. 2012 Nov;56(6):993-9. doi: 10.1007/s00484-011-0510-x. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

Physiological and productive responses of multiparous lactating Holstein cows exposed to short-term cooling during severe summer conditions in an arid region of Mexico.

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Instituto de Ciencias Agrícolas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Ejido Nuevo León, Valle de Mexicali, Baja California, México.


Heat stress generates a significant economic impact for the dairy industry in arid and semi-arid regions of the world, so that heat abatement is an important issue for dairy producers. The objective of this study was to evaluate effects of two short-term cooling periods on physiological and productive status of lactating Holstein cows during hot ambient temperatures. Thirty-nine multiparous cows were blocked by milk yield and assigned to one of three treatments including: control group (C), cows cooled before milking time (0500 and 1700 h daily, 1 h cooling); AM group, cows cooled at 1000 h and before milking (2 h cooling); and AM + PM group, cows cooled at 1100, 1500 and 2200 h, as well as before milking (4 h cooling). The cooling system was placed in the holding pen which the cows were moved through for cooling. Respiratory rate, and temperatures of thurl and right flank, were lower (P < 0.05) in cows from the AM + PM group than AM and C cows during the morning and afternoon. However, udder temperature was higher in the AM + PM group compared to AM and C groups during the afternoon, although lower than the AM group during the morning. Rectal temperature was similar in all groups. Thyroxin concentrations tended (P < 0.10) to be lower in AM + PM relative to the AM and C groups. The AM + PM group had higher (P < 0.05) milk production than C (18.70 vs. 17.43 kg, respectively), and AM + PM cows had a trend (P < 0.10) to increased milk energy output vs. the C and AM groups (13.75 vs. 13.18 and 13.15 Mcal, respectively). Protein and fat in milk, body condition score, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and triiodothyronine were similar among the groups. Four hours of cooling with spray and fans during severe summer temperatures only modestly improved milk yield of lactating Holstein cows.

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