Dairy Cow Stress is Complicated
Research and resources
to help you manage through it.
Photo: Schaefer Panel fans from Pinnacle Climate Technologies
Manage her many stressors.
Intuitively, in your own life, you recognize the risk of multiple stressors building on top of each other. Some days it can reach a point where everything comes crashing down. We call it the Jenga® Effect.
For your cows, stressors can trigger all sorts of negative outcomes: reduced longevity, poor reproductive performance, immune dysfunction, lower milk production and component yield, and more.
Knowing how stressors interact – and how you can manage them – will help you keep your cows producing at a high level and help prevent unnecessary revenue losses.
Use this educational resource to learn about the many different stress factors and find solutions to reduce their damage.
There’s a lot of stress out there.
Our industry tends to view stressors one at a time. But stress is much more complicated and wide-ranging. Stress can surround cows at virtually all times in different ways. Some cows are more affected by it than others.
Genetics plays a big role, but so does management and nutrition. It takes a whole farm approach to keep cows comfortable, healthy and producing.
Identify potential stressors on your farm.
Stage of production
Stage of production
- Close up
- Just fresh
- Peak milk
- Calf weaning
- Heat stress
- Cold, humidity, light
- Adverse weather events
- Excessive rain, snow
- Stocking density
- Group changes
- Mixed parity groupings
- Bunk space
- Health status
- Housing type
- Human-animal interactions
- Feed availability and quality
- Feeding frequency
- Water supply and quality
- Ration balance
- Feed changes
- Metabolic Disease:
- Related to transition period
- Clinical & subclinical ketosis
- Milk fever
- Rumen & Gut Health:
- Clinical & subclinical acidosis
Stress hurts your cows, you and your staff.
While it is vital to manage heat stress, your dairy cows can face more than 30 different stress factors, and all of them can have an effect on cow health and performance. Stress factors can interact, multiplying health consequences for your cows and your cost of production.
Plus, when your cows are stressed, you can become stressed and so can the people around you and your cows. Learn about the many different stress factors and solutions to reduce their damage.
How stress gets magnified
Chris Gwyn, Jefo North America ruminant business development manager, explains how stress factors interact and make things worse for you and your cows.
Manage every stressor to avoid intensifying effects.
Although you already manage a lot, you can’t afford to give any stress factor a free pass. Here are some solutions to help manage stress wherever it attacks across the farm.
Every stressor can affect performance and profitability.
While heat stress attracts a lot of attention, the dozens of different stressors shown above also can affect cow health and performance and your farm’s profitability.
Social stressors come from a variety of sources. Production stages such as calving can be a stressor. Nutritional stressors can be physiological or they can be perceptual. With potential for stressors to trigger negative outcomes looming large, nutrition has to play a vital protective role. Learn more from Dr. Trevor DeVries in this Jefo RumiNation Podcast.
Stress factors interact, compounding the original issue and reducing revenue.
You see it in your cows. You know it about yourself. Stress grows. One stressful event creates stress elsewhere in your day and can even spread to those around you. The compounding effects of stress tell us that we can’t put stress factors such as heat, overcrowding, lameness, noise, weaning and more into silos. We view stress holistically. We help you care for your cows in the same way.
It’s the strain that matters.
Cows are stressed. The strain is how they respond to that stress, says Dr. Matthew Lucy, Ph.D., in a Jefo RumiNation podcast episode. Consider two cows who have the same levels of postpartum BHB but react differently. Or cows in a crowd, each reacting to that stress differently.
Once you have great genetics, management takes over. Great managers pay keen attention to nutrition. There is no substitution for good management and nutrition, says Dr. Lucy.
SPEAK WITH A REAL (FRIENDLY) EXPERT.
Your Jefo representative can help you reduce stress levels across the farm. Get ideas for nutrition strategies. Get your hands on more research. Learn more about a protected B vitamin blend and selenium. Or just get a conversation started.
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