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Heat Stress - the Rest of the Story

Jerry Bertoldo, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

Last Modified: June 25, 2013

The weather has been on everyone's mind and in our conversations since spring - from endless rains to now parching sun and heat. Milk production has suffered across the board. Those armed with fans, misters or soakers or a combination of these, have had the least impact on herd production. Minimal or no heat abatement has resulted in milk losses of 10-20%.

Not designed for the heat
Cows are biological factories with a heat generating rumen as part of their powerhouse. In one day, they give off the same heat as a 1500 watt electric hair dryer running for one hour. Cows have limited ability to sweat. Their surface area is small compared to the body mass. Radiating excess heat is not very efficient. Much heat loss must occur through breathing. Cows have a need to dump extra body heat when ambient temperatures exceed 68F. High humidity makes the job tougher.

We most easily see the evidence of this overheating in decreased dry matter intake and lower milk production. Panting increases standing time and crowding develops as the situation worsens. Prolonged heat stress will limit the expected recovery in pounds of milk in mid to late lactation cows and dampen the peak milk for early lactation ones.

Heat stress with consequences occurs in cattle when body temperatures exceed 103F, respirations are more than 80 per minute, feed intake drops more than 10-15% and milk production decreases the same. The efficiency of energy utilization for milk production may drop 30-50% as well.

Immediate and delayed consequences
The effects of heat stress are more numerous than these previous observations. Body temperatures over 103F for several hours are lethal to embryos and reduce the effects of vaccinations. Birth weights are lower when the calf is carried through the last trimester in hot conditions. Colostrum quality is lower. Body condition is harder to maintain. Laminitis is more common after hot weather. Metabolic problems occur more frequently in transition cows during these conditions. Ketotic cows have reduced fertility two months after the episode. Immune function suffers after heat stress resulting in more mastitis, retained placentas and metritis.

Laminitis is a big dollar issue
Cattle trend towards erratic eating patterns and less cud chewing during heat stress. This leads to lower saliva production and rumen pH. Drooling of bicarbonate rich saliva during extreme heat wastes this buffer when it is needed the most. Panting contributes to the acidosis picture by lowering blood pH. Higher rumen acidity ulcerates the rumen lining opening a way for harmful toxins and bacteria to enter the bloodstream and promote the release of powerful chemicals that inflame the soft tissues inside the hoof. This is how chemically induced laminitis happens. The result is at first the bruised appearance of the sole followed by white line and heel separations, sole ulcers and abscesses. Eventually the fever rings and misshapen hoof walls become apparent.

From a purely mechanical point of view, it is fairly common to see laminitis after cows have experienced long periods of standing versus lying down compared to the ideal 12 hours plus off their feet. Overcrowding is often the cause. This occurs in all weather conditions; however the severity of the situation is much more dramatic when putting the metabolic changes of heat stress on top.

The signs of laminitis start with stiffness in gait and evolve to more dramatic lameness. Telltale signs of sole discoloration take up to two month to show, matching the growth rate and thickness of the sole layer. Continued insult to the sensitive areas in the hoof compound the problem. These cows become difficult to keep sound and productive.

Silent time bombs
The entry of bacteria into the bloodstream through the "burnt" rumen wall provides the culture for abscesses as well as chemical changes affecting the feet. Unlike other species, cattle tolerate this level of bacteria quite well. The same load of bugs would undoubtedly make us severely ill in the least.

These bacteria travel and set up housekeeping in other places as well in the cow. The lung and liver are two prime spots. Abscesses can develop and enlarge over time. Chronic rumen acidosis can be associated with sudden death from the rupture of these pus pockets. When this occurs in the lungs, bleeding from the nose is a common sign. Other cases wind up being poor doers without a diagnosis.

Cause and effect
With the time span between heat stress and a good deal of the aftermath being long, it is easy to look for other reasons to explain problems that come up in the fall. It is late to do much about heat abatement for this year, but it is not too early to think about what you can do to for next. Keep a mindful eye on the performance of your herd in the months ahead and see if it fits with the heat stress "rest of the story". There is a big dollar opportunity in providing extra cool comfort to cows in the summer.



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calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Beginning Farmer/Hobby Farmer Workshop $5/pp, class size is limited, so pre-register by April 15th!

April 27, 2019
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Canandaigua, NY

This hands-on workshop is for beginning or part-time farmers who would like to improve their farm machinery skills, learn to properly and safely maintain their equipment to protect their investment. If you have been thinking about buying a tractor, new or used, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, compact or utility or more come join us. Topics include: selecting the right size/type tractor for the job; basic maintenance; staying safe around tractors and equipment; attaching implements properly; and information about ROPS and SMV's. There will be time for questions.

Pre-registration requested by April 15, 2019 email Amy with your name, address, and phone number or call 585-394-3977 x 429.
Fee: $5.00/person. Class size is limited.

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2019 Pastured Poultry Seminar, lunch included so please register by May 10th! $25/person

May 18, 2019
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.w/ coffee & donuts with the Program running from 9:00 a.m. - 5 p. m.
Attica, NY

The main speaker this year is Eli Reiff of Mifflinburg Pennsylvania. Eli raises broilers, turkeys, sheep, and beef, all on pasture. Topics to be covered will include the pasture, feed and nutrition, marketing, costs, and much more. As we grow as farm operators and get bigger, we may not pay as much attention to the basics as we should. So those areas are where we will start, and then expand to cover the group's interests.

Mike Badger, Director of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association will also be available for a round-table discussion. Plans are to have representatives from Farm Bureau, NYCAMH for farm health and safety, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, as well as others.

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Calling all 9th-12th graders! 4th Annual Precision Agriculture Day at Genesee Community College

May 21, 2019
9:00 am - 1:30 pm Register by Friday May 10th! $15/per person includes lunch
Batavia, NY

Calling all 9th-12th graders!  We have an exciting new program for students interested in technology, science, engineering, and agriculture!
Would you like to:
  • Learn about how Drones collect information
  • Check out some potential career opportunities that have new and ever-changing technology
  • Learn how these technologies can be used in our own backyards in WNY
  • Discover potential and exciting career opportunities

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Announcements

Producers Previously Enrolled in the LGM Program Now Eligible for MPP

Dairy Producers Previously Enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program Now Eligible for 2018 Margin Protection Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019.
Eligible producers can enroll during the sign-up period at their local USDA service center. To locate your office, visit farmers.gov.


Smart Farming Team Technical Assistance Grant Application

The Labor Ready Farmer Project is offering grants to provide up to 12 hours of Technical Assistance (TA) consulting services to farms who want to make improvements to their farm's processes in hiring, training, managing or evaluating employees. Applicants will choose from one of the following four areas for TA assistance and identify a specific project. If selected they will be matched with a "Smart Farming Team" of consultants who will provide one on one technical assistance.
  • HIRING EMPLOYEES 101 - GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START
  • ONBOARDING & TRAINING EMPLOYEES QUICKLY AND EFFECTIVELY
  • FINE-TUNING & IMPROVING THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
  • H2-A READINESS
Please complete this application and send to Nicole Waters, Beginning Farm Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. The form can be submitted by email, mail or in-person at the address listed below. Please feel free to call or email with any questions.

Nicole Waters - Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator
Plant Science Building, Room 15b
Tower Road, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607-255-9911
Email: nw42@cornell.edu

Applications accepted on a rolling basis.



USDA Announces January Income over Feed Cost Margin Triggers First 2019 Dairy Sa

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2019 ? The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that the January 2019 income over feed cost margin was $7.99 per hundredweight, triggering the first payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new but yet-to-be established Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that sign up for 
DMC will open by mid-June of this year. At the time of sign up, producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $8.00 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January 2019.

For example, a dairy operation with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) that elects the $9.50 coverage level for 50 percent of its production could potentially be eligible to receive $1,887.50 for January.

Sample calculation:
$9.50 - $7.99 margin = $1.51 difference
$1.51 times 50 percent of production times 2,500 cwt. (30,000 cwt./12) = $1,887.50

The calculated annual premium for coverage at $9.50 on 50 percent of a 3-million-pound production history for this example would be $2,250.

Sample calculation:
3,000,000 times 50 percent = 1,500,000/100 = 15,000 cwt. times 0.150 premium fee = $2,250

Operations making a one-time election to participate in DMC through 2023 are eligible to receive a 25 percent discount on their premium for the existing margin coverage rates.

"Congress created the Dairy Margin Coverage program to provide an important financial safety net for dairy producers, helping them weather shifting milk and feed prices," FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. "This program builds on the previous Margin Protection Program for Dairy, carrying forward many of the program upgrades made last year based on feedback from producers. We're working diligently to implement the DMC program and other FSA programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill."

Additional details about DMC and other FSA farm bill program changes can be found at farmers.gov/farmbill.


New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.

https://nwnyteam.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=761&crumb=dairy|1

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