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12/15/2014

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RationStrategiesforHotWeather
Oneofthemostdifficultfeedingchallengesfacedbydairyfarmersisthedropoffinfeedintakeand
milkproductionduringthesummer.Duringthepeakofsummer,consumptionofdrymattertypically
fallsbyabout16%toaround42poundsperdayforamatureHolsteincow.Duringcoolermonths,a
Holsteinconsumes48to50poundsperday.Inaddition,hotweatheralsoincreasestheenergy
requirementsofthecowbecauserespirationandheartratemustbeincreasedtocoolthecow.When
reductionsinfeedintakearecoupledwithincreasednutrientrequirements,lossofmilkproduction
and(or)bodyconditioncanoccur.

Tominimizetheselosses,rationsmustbeformulatedforhotweather.Hotweatherrationsmust
deliveralltheprotein,energyandmineralsneededbythecowinasmallerpackagethanthestandard
ration.Atthesametime,theserationsmuststillsupplyenougheffectivefibertomaintainrumen
health.

FeedingStrategies
Toaccomplishthis,usethehighestqualityforagesandconcentrates.Lowqualityforagesareusually
lowinbothproteinandenergy,makingitextremelydifficulttobalancenutrientswhilemaintaining
fiberatalevelwhichpreventsrumenacidosisandtherelatedproblemsofdepressedbutterfatand
laminitis.Theuseofbyproductfeeds(beetpulp,cottonseedhulls,etc.)tosupplyadditionalration
fiberfurthercomplicateshotweatherrations.Althoughthesefeedsarehighinchemicalfiber,they
contributeverylittlechewablefiberformaintainingrumenhealth.Also,highfibercommodities
providelessenergythangrainsbutstillproduceconsiderableheatwhenfermentedintherumen.

Table1showsthenutrientsrequiredinarationfora1,200poundcowproducing65lbsofmilk
duringhotweather.Inadditiontoincreasingrationproteinandenergydensity,specificmineralsmust
beincreasedduringhotweather.Sodiumandpotassiumareneededinlargeramountsbecauseoftheir
lossinsweat.Thecowsmagnesiumrequirementmustalsobeincreasedbecausemagnesium
absorptionisdecreasedwheneverpotassiumintakeisincreased.

Sodiumcanbeprovidedassaltorassodiumbicarbonate.Potassiumcanbeaddedaspotassium
chloride,potassiumcarbonateorpotassiumbicarbonate.Potassium,sodiumbicarbonateand
potassiumcarbonatealsohavetheaddedbenefitofaddingbufferingcapacitytothediet,aswellas
increasingdietarycationanionbalance.Itshouldbenotedthattheseingredientscanreducethe
palatabilityandconsumptionofthegrainmixifitisfedseparatelyfromtheforage.

Table1.Requiredrationcompositionfora1,200lbcow
producing65lbsofmilkduringhotweather
Nutrient
Requirement
Crudeprotein
18.1%
Netenergy
.77Mcal/lb
Fiber(ADF)
20%
Potassium
1.4%
Sodium
.45%
Magnesium
.3%
Assumesthecowcanconsume42lbsofdrymatter.

Besidesthesebufferandsaltadditives,thepotassiumrequirementcanalsobemetusingcommon
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12/15/2014

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feedstuffshighinpotassium.Ryegrasshayandhaylagecanincreasethepotassiumcontentofthe
ration.Molassesisalsohighinpotassiumandhastheaddedbenefitofimprovingpalatabilityofthe
ration,whichmayhelpmaintainfeedintake.

Feedingmanagementandtimingarecriticalinhotweather.Cowsarelessinterestedineatingwhen
theirbodytemperatureiselevated.Offeringfeedmorefrequentlywilllurecowstothefeedbunkand
helptomaintainthefreshnessofwetfeeds.

Duringtheearlymorninghours,theairtemperatureandthetemperatureofcow'sbodyreachtheir
dailylows.Thiscoincideswiththemorningmilkingtimeonmanyfarms.Ifcowsarecooledwithfans
andsprinklersduringthemilkingprocess,cowtemperatureswillfallevenfurther.Totakefull
advantageofthis,itiscriticalthatfreshfeedbepresentforallcowswhentheyleavethemilking
parlor.Thisisthebestopportunityduringthedaytoincreasethecowsfeedintake.
Summary
Duringhotweather,itiscriticaltofeedahighqualityrationthatwillmaximizefeedintake,whichis
criticalinmaintainingmilkproductionandbodycondition.Feedshouldbefreshandavailableat
timeswhencowsaremostcomfortableandactive.

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