Heat stress not only affects people; it's hard on cattle too, said a dairy industry expert. The Dairy Heat Stress Road Show, a multi-institutional effort, will hit the road again this spring to help producers cope with the problem.

Dr. Todd Bilby, Dairy Technical Services Manager with Merck Animal Health, said heat stress on dairies not only affects cow comfort, but also lowers milk production and fertility, which costs the dairy industry millions of dollars annually.

"The Dairy Heat Stress Road Show, financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in collaboration with several universities, is a series of educational programs that has already traveled to Florida and Puerto Rico and will travel next to Texas, New Mexico and California," Bilby said. "The effort's purpose is to teach producers how to overcome some of the negative effects of heat stress by implementing strategies such as nutritional changes, hormonal treatments and facility and technology improvements."

As a part of the Dairy Heat Stress Road Show dairy producers are surveyed about the program and the impact heat stress has on their cows and dairy operation. In the first two programs offered in Florida and Puerto Rico 100% of the participants were satisfied to completely satisfied with the program. Just a few of the participants comments indicated that they liked most the discussions concerning, "genetic selection information," "the effect of dry cow cooling," and "facility modifications." So far over 69% of the program participants say they will make changes based on the training information.

The next sessions scheduled will run from 10 a.m.- 2:45 p.m. with lunch provided.

The 2014 dates and locations are:

  • April 1, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Stephenville, Texas.
  • April 2, Hilton Garden Inn, East Elwood St., Phoenix, Arizona
  • April 4, Consumer Education Pavilion, Vet Medicine Center, Tulare, California.

Topics and speakers include: Nutritional Additives and Facility Modifications to Reduce Heat Stress, Dr. Robert Collier, Professor, University of Arizona; Should We Cool Dry Cows? Dr. Geoffrey Dahl, Professor and Head of Department, University of Florida; Current and Future Opportunities to Reduce the Impact of Heat Stress, Dr. Pete Hansen, Distinguished Professor, University of Florida. Dr. Bilby will speak on Tools and Technologies to Assess Heat Stress on Commercial Dairies.

The Tulare program will include the presentation Managing Heat Stress in California: Implications and Opportunities by Dr. Noelia Silva-del-Río, Extension Dairy Specialist-University of California-Davis, Veterinary School.

Bilby concluded, "In the survey all program participants estimated that they could save over $21 per head per year by introducing information learned at the Road Show and 31% could save over $81 per head per year making attendance a priority for any and all dairymen.

Along with on-site instruction, the road show will provide the latest research technology, software tools and proceedings in English or Spanish at each program. The road show is free and open to the public, Bilby said.

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