Effects of heat stress on milk yield of primiparous Holstein cows at regional scale using large data bases
With the prospects of global warming, heat stress, the depressive (summer) heat effect on milk yield, has become a high priority research problem in temperate zones. The effect of summer present day heat and lag heat effects on milk yield of first lactation grazing Holstein cows was assessed through the temperature and humidity index (THI). Additionally, THI thresholds were calculated. Daily air temperature and humidity data from three locations for six summer seasons (December-March in years 2001 – 2006) were used. Data of 35500 monthly test days from 8875 cows in 54 farms within the influence zones of the respective meteorological stations were analyzed. Mixed linear models were adjusted, considering the animal as random effect and location, farm, days in milking, age at calving, year of calving and THI as fixed effects. Four measures per animal were taken into account and modelled as repeated measures. A significant depressing heat effect on milk yield was found for the present day (THI) and also for one-day and two-days before (THI1 and THI2). Significant interactions between THI and days in milk, farm and year were found. The lag heat effects explained more variability on milk yield than the heat effect for the present day. Threshold THI-values were different depending on the considered day: 75, 75 and 72 were estimated for THI, THI1 and THI2, respectively. Heat stress caused a decrease in milk yield of 1.3%, 1.9%, and 0.9% of average daily production (per THI unit increase above threshold), depending on the THI measure used.
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