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HomeDairyAdvice on housing, heat stress, young stock & problem cows
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Advice on housing, heat stress, young stock & problem cows

Prolonged dry and hot weather conditions can have a significant impact on grass growth and supply on some farms.

In this news article, Conail Keown, senior dairying advisor, CAFRE, looks at key management considerations for your farm.

In his first post on, he provided some considerations for dairy farmers in light of prolonged dry weather conditions, which you can read via this link.

But, in this article, he explores housing, young stock and a persistent dry period.

Other key management considerations for your farm

  1. Housing

Where cows are grazing by day and being housed at night, consider grazing at night and housing during the day.

If housed cows are tightly stocked in warm weather, this will further add to stress on animals. Do not overload cubicle houses in warm conditions.

Feeding silage on a ‘little and often’ basis for housed cows should help to reduce feed spoilage.

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Cows should be observed for signs of heat stress during warm weather.

Cows become lethargic and inactive and will often stand with heads bowed and panting. Respiration rates will also increase.

To alleviate heat stress, cows should be given access to shade and air flow increased for example, with fans.

Heat stress can not only adversely impact milk yield, but a number of farms have already reported a drop in fertility performance which may too be a direct result of heat stress.

  1. Young stock

Do not neglect youngstock – total dry matter intake requirements are small relative to the milking herd, but nonetheless, adequate feed must be offered daily.

Experience from other drought periods highlighted a downturn in heifer DLWG (daily liveweight gain), even when stock seemed content.

So additional purchased concentrates may be necessary to maintain growth rates, and this is especially important for herds aiming to calve heifers at 2 years of age.

  1. Persistent dry period

Late lactation cows in poor condition should be dried off early to ease pressure on the best quality feed.

Consider offloading problem cows that are already in line for culling.

If silage must be fed for a few weeks in summer, complete an early fodder budget. This will allow plenty of time to take action if there is a risk of feed shortages later in the year.

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