STALLWEATHER SYSTEM

Modern breeding technology and intensive cattle production have determined the way stables are built, as well as technologies used within. The issue of living conditions for cows is becoming more and more important, especially in recent years, when consequences of global warming, increased consumption of basic fuels and electricity more and more affect agricultural production.

The practice which has started in 60s and which implies the construction of cheapest possible objects for the sake of greater production competitiveness slowly loses its domination. In objects insufficiently protected from the elements needs increase for the additional regulation of microclimate in the stable, such as fans, sprinklers, etc. Keeping cows in stables does not only mean protecting them from the elements, but it offers better conditions for monitoring cows' nutrition for the sake of increasing their production capabilities (easier manipulation with cows and simpler control of certain occurrences), adapting cows' habits to modern ways of production, protection of pastures, etc. The human is an important factor for sure, i.e. their behavior towards animals. They are aware that climate changes are ever increasingly present and strong in its negative influence onto the whole natural system, in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well, especially having in mind the May 2014 floods in almost entire Bosnia and Herzegovina, preceded by several extremely hot summer droughts. All of this has directly and indirectly disturbed the life of people, but also the life of beings living beside them, i.e. domestic animals.          

Environmental factors, which do or can affect domestic animals, are a complicated system, and man can hardly understand the importance of their effect. In the process of domestification, man has separated animals from nature and succumbed them to his/hers own needs, so, therefore, they be responsible for them and adapt living conditions to the needs of kept animals. 

When talking about the wellbeing of domestic animals in relation to the climate conditions, one, above all, thinks about extreme situations, such as high or low temperatures, strong winds, great precipitation, etc., that can have negative effect on animal health and decrease owner's revenues. Since cattle were derived from the Arctic, in our areas the biggest problem for highly-productive cows is high summer temperatures, when cattle, especially highly-productive head of cattle can suffer heat stress. Cattle are homeotherms, i.e., during their entire life they maintain equal body temperature. Important factors affecting the body temperature are climate factors, as well as production purpose, cycle or production capacity of a head of cattle.

Category/ T° C

Low

Optimal

High

Fattening races

– 18 to –10

– 9 to 20

 20 to 27

Dairy cows up to 22kg milk/day

– 26 to – 22

– 21 to 20

21 and more (CP 26-28)

Dairy cows up to 40kg milk/day

– 30 to – 6

– 5 to 20

21 and more (CP 25)

CP – critical point

In 1999, Jones and Stallings stated some effects of heat stress: cows which go through heat stress during the last three months of gestation bring to life smaller and weaker calves; in next lactation they produce up to 12% less milk; heat stress negatively affects reproduction characteristics, follicular activity falls and embryonic losses increase. Furthermore, heat stress expands treatment of sick animals, animals are more tired, liver contains more fat, there is frequent and increased mastitis, there are negative reactions to vaccines, and abortions are more frequent. General negative consequences of heat stress are: lower food acceptation, deteriorated conversion of nutritious maters, increased acceptation of water, lesser milk production, changes of milk content, changes in the content of colostrums, lesser fertility, insufficient embryonic development, slower growth and development of head of cattle.

Negative influence of microclimates can be avoided or at least diminished. However, it is necessary to have timely and realistic information, good prognosis, in order to react on time.

Stall Weather system enables timely reporting to farmers about stable microclimate status through combining various mathematical formulas. It gives quality data to the farmer and directs to action. Information is received by e-mail or by texting.

Stall Weather system has been created in cooperation of experts from Norway and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its basic use is to be helpful to the farmer, to enable maintaining of production, to decrease effects of the surroundings on the life and production of animal bred, to increase profit.   

The project is supported by Norwegian HERD programme.  

Dr Miljan Erbez