The drought-like conditions coupled with hot weather is not only having an effect on crops but is also causing stress in milch animals, particularly the high milk yielding cross-bred cows, thereby adversely affecting milk production.
Hot weather causes heat stress in dairy cattle, which leads to an increase in the body temperature, of cows in particular.
Lactating dairy cows generate a large quantity of metabolic heat and accumulate additional heat from radiant energy. Heat production coupled with compromised cooling capability because of environmental conditions causes heat stress in cattle. As a result, feed intake by cows comes down. All these factors are associated with a decline in milk yield, fertility and growth rate.
According to Dr BS Randhawa, a senior veterinary clinician, the effect of high temperatures is more marked in cows with high milk yield. When temperature exceeds 27 degree celsius, even at low humidity, the effective temperature is above the comfort zone for dairy cows, which produce high quantity of milk. Milk yield declines by 1.8 kg for each 0.55 degree Celsius increase in rectal temperature.
Dairy farmer Piara Lal Pardhan, who runs a dairy complex on the Mahal bypass on the outskirts of the city, told HT on Sunday that milk output of his cross-bred cows has declined by almost 50% due to the drought-like conditions and hot weather. "A cow, which used to give 20kg milk during morning hours in normal conditions, is now yielding 10 kg."
Anoop Kumar, fodder development officer of the veterinary department, said reduced availability of quality fodder is also taking its toll on animals. On one hand, the intake of fodder by animals has reduced in such conditions, on the other hand, animals becomes weak, which, in turn, makes them prone to various diseases.