Amelioration of thermal stress impacts in dairy cows

Frank R. Dunshea, Brian J. Leury, Fahri Fahri, Kristy Digiacomo, Alex Hung, Surinder Chauhan, Iain J. Clarke, Robert Collier, Stephen Little, Lance Baumgard, John B. Gaughan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    77 Scopus citations


    Heat stress negatively impacts on a variety of animal production parameters. Advances in management strategies have alleviated some of the negative impacts of thermal stress on farm animals, but production continues to markedly decrease during heat events in summer, particularly in dairy cattle. In this paper we introduce a Dairy Risk Assessment Program (DRAP). The DRAP is a user-friendly software package designed to assist users in predicting heat loads in dairy cow herds. DRAP was developed over three Australian summers using climatic data (temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed), cow production data (milk yield and milk quality), and physiological data (respiration rate and body temperature). The data were used to develop mathematical algorithms which can predict animal response to climatic variables. This software package is designed to be used by the dairy industry to better manage cows during times of elevated environmental temperatures by equipping producers, managers, and dairy industry personnel with Dairy Heat Load Index (DHLI) values which were calculated based upon site information, stock characteristics, management practices, and mitigation variables specific to their dairy production unit. When a heat event is imminent producers can then introduce management strategies such as providing shade or additional water troughs or implementation of nutritional strategies. Some of these nutritional strategies include dietary chromium picolinate, betaine and antioxidant supplementation or altering the rate of starch fermentation. These nutritional strategies are discussed at some length in this paper.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)965-975
    Number of pages11
    JournalAnimal Production Science
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Food Science
    • Animal Science and Zoology


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