With cooler temperatures descending on much of North America and the northern hemisphere, many dairy owners can breathe a sigh of relief that peak heat stress season has come and gone. However, dairy experts from VES-Artex and operators leveraging advanced ventilation techniques say the time is now to act on heat stress mitigation techniques, not in a few months when the threat of rising THI rears its head once more.
“Heat stress has indirect seasonal strains throughout the dairy, whether that’s milk production and reproduction drops in the summer, lameness in the fall, or seasonal strains on calving facilities,” said Dr. Mike Wolf, consulting veterinarian for VES-Artex. “Losing milk every summer is usually the inviting cause to take action against heat stress, but the time is really now to take action.”
In Central California at Blue Sky Dairy, a growing operation located in Atwater, CA, they have used VES-Artex fans for four years, but last fall installed industry-leading ventilation equipment with a Smart Motor System that integrates with VES-Artex’s DairyBOS® platform in a new expansion of the dairy.
The benefits at Blue Sky have been widespread, said Danny Aguida, Blue Sky’s owner.
“On the reproduction side, we’ve seen an improvement through the summer months, the fans just took us over the top through the summer,” Aguida said. “Last summer was one of the worst we’ve seen here in California because of fires and the humidity, and that’s where the fans really shined.”
The dairy saw an increase in pregnancy rates, hitting 31 percent for the year, and greatly reduced seasonal fluctuations in milk production, and sharply reduced cull rates, Aguida said.
“If you looked at the raw data alone, you couldn’t even tell there’s a seasonal change,” he said.
While those kinds of results aren’t going to be replicable across every dairy and every region, studies, and data shows that a strategic ventilation and heat stress mitigation strategy can have serious positive ramifications on the well-being of an entire herd, and a dairy’s bottom line.
At the end of the day, while reproduction and lameness are critical factors – and expenses – for dairies to consider, stimulating maximal milk production, consistency and quality will always be king. That’s why investing the time and resources into a heat stress mitigation strategy now can pay dividends later, when they’re needed most.
But where to start?
Regardless of whether your operation needs to retrofit existing infrastructure or is in the market for expansion, looking at your ventilation equipment is a good first starting point. Getting connected with one of our in-house dairy experts can help in assessing your exact needs based on current data, historical weather trends, and other specifics about your herd. In some instances, there may be relatively small tweaks VES-Artex experts can make to existing ventilation installations to maximize airflow at the cow level and reduce the ramifications of heat stress.
In other cases, there may be an opportunity to add fans to your dairy structures in a way that completely transforms the environment for your herd. Finally, now is a great time to discuss what benefits a system like the Intelligent Barn ™ powerd by DairyBOS® can provide your operation. With actionable data, analytics, and back-of-barn control over ventilation equipment and other systems, The Intelligent Barn can be integrated both with existing ventilation technology, and new fans.
To learn more about VES-Artex’s ventilation and heat stress mitigation solutions, contact us today to get connected with one of our in-house dairy experts. And make sure to follow us on all of our social channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
And to participate in one of our upcoming webinars, which share research and insight from some of the dairy industry’s foremost experts, make sure to visit https://www.ves-artex.com/webinars