DairyChannel: Northeast management conference lines up dairy heat stress experts

After a quick trip up into the relatively balmy 40s, the mercury in the thermometer headed back down below 20.

According to the weatherman on Sunday night, it is going to stay there for awhile.

It is at times like these that we don’t worry about the implications of heat stress for our cows. We are more worried about the implications of not getting to some heat if we’ve been outside for awhile.

Heat stress. Actually, March 6 will be a good time to think about heat stress. That is when dairymen and dairy industry types will gather again for the Northeast Ohio Dairy Management Conference at the Raintree Country Club in North Canton, Ohio.

Presentations will focus on the consequences of doing nothing to reduce heat stress and how we can do something about heat stress.

Impacts. Normand St-Pierre, OSU dairy specialist, will kick off the day with a look at how excess heat impacts the cow and our pocketbook. Heat stress impacts the cow in many ways (details on the sixth!).

Ultimately it adversely impacts her milk production and reproduction – a one-two punch to the milk check that we can ill afford this year.

Fortunately, we can easily lessen heat’s impacts with reasonable investments that will pay off quickly.

Many farms have already installed fans and sprinklers to help cool cows. Jump on this opportunity to re-evaluate that system to make sure it is doing all that it can do.

What, how. Rick Stowell, agricultural engineer from the University of Nebraska, will follow up the “what” of our heat stress discussion with “how” to change the cow’s environment to lessen the negative impacts of heat.

His first charge from the planning committee: Dairymen leaving the conference should have the information and knowledge in hand (and head!) to install their own sprinkler and fan-cooling systems.

His second charge: what are the facts about supplemental fans, tunnel ventilation and high-velocity, low-speed fans (HVLS – these are the great big fans that are currently advertised under a brand name that resembles “big donkey” fans.)

What role can these play in the fight against heat stress?

For the birds. Got birds? You are lucky if you don’t.

Unfortunately, birds have become rats with wings on many dairy farms. What is a dairyman to do?

There actually have not been a whole lot of options other than hanging inflatable owls or shiny pie pans… that frequently get covered with bird poop after the first three weeks.

The USDA Wildlife Service will be on hand to talk about bird control options including the new baiting program they are currently offering.

Merger. In the last year, the Ohio Dairy Farmers Federation and the Progressive Dairy Producers of Ohio merged to become the voice for Ohio Dairy Producers (and took that name as well!)

Tim Demland will be on hand to discuss the merger, how Ohio Dairy Producers is working to strengthen Ohio’s dairy industry and why every dairyman should be a member.

Food safety. Finally, dairy cows were recently targeted as the source of a salmonella outbreak traced back to Young’s Jersey Dairy.

While the source of infection wasn’t the cows or the raw milk sold by the dairy, the incident illustrates the potential concern with food safety and our dairy farms.

Jeff LeJeune, a researcher with the Food Animal Health Research Program at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, is currently surveying our dairy farms to establish the incidence of E. coli 0157 and potential impacts on food safety.

He will briefly share with us what he sees on our farms.

Now, I know that good food goes a long way toward making a good day. So, plan to enjoy a really fine lunch of prime rib (we are not talking cull cow here.)

I promise that some of the prime rib will be cooked a bit longer than last year’s. But if you like it rare, that will be available also.

How to register? The Raintree Country Club is an easy drive from anywhere in northeast Ohio.

It is just off of Interstate 77, a few miles north of the Belden Village shopping Mecca (just in case someone wants to drop you off at the conference while they go stimulate the economy.)

To register, either contact your extension office as they have brochures with detailed directions if you haven’t joined us before.

Or, in this issue is an advertisement for the conference which includes a registration form that you can fill out and send in (the sooner, the cheaper.)

Warmer days. It is time to get in out of the cold.

Send in your registration and think ahead to the warmer days of July. I guarantee that you will be glad you did.

If you finally get that sprinkler system up and running, or decide on the right place to put those fans that are gathering dust in the shop, so will your cows.

(The author is the northeast Ohio district dairy specialist with OSU Extension. Send comments or questions in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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