Milk production and blood metabolites of dairy cattle as influenced by thermal-humidity index
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- Tropical Animal Health and Production
DOI 10.1007/s11250-018-1513-y
  1. Blood proteins
  2. Milk production
  3. Smallholder dairy cows

The effects of high thermal stress on serum protein metabolites, milk production of transition dairy cows in semi-arid areas in South Africa were evaluated. Forty, ± 8 months pregnant, Jersey heifers (± 26 months) in zero grazing management were selected during summer from two semi-arid communal areas. Summer thermal-humidity index (THI) of the areas were THI-1 (72–83: extreme caution) and THI-2 (75–87: danger). Blood samples were collected (21 days pre-partum, and 21 and 75 days post-partum) and analysed for serum protein metabolites. Milk yield was recorded daily and samples collected for milk fat, protein, lactose and urea nitrogen analysis. Heifers in THI-2 had lower (P < 0.05) total serum proteins, albumin and blood urea nitrogen than THI-1. Post-calving, cows in THI-1 had higher (P < 0.05) TP (73.4 vs 67.9 g/l) and BUN (4.61 vs 3.77 mmol/l) at 21 DIM, and lower (P creatinine at 21 and 75 DIM than THI-2 group. Milk yield, fat and protein in THI-2 were all lower (P < 0.05) than THI-1 21DIM. The results confirm that heat stress affects utilisation of nutrients in transition dairy cows.