What are farm animals at risk?

Anthony Kaczmarek 4 mins
thirsty cows
Farmers are advised to modify their behavior by providing their cattle with water, while adapting food rations.

While the temperatures sometimes go exceed 40 degrees in L’West of France this Saturday, concern rises among farmers, and in particular breeders.

The agricultural innovation company ITK has established a heat stress prediction map for farm animals. This index, based both on the temperature and thehumidityallows to’assess animal welfare.

Heatwave: deadly risk for cattle

We have already mentioned it: the dairy cows do not bear well them temperatures above 25 degrees and are very weakened by the episodes of high heat. They are then more tiredprotect themselves from the sun, eat less and are more likely to have miscarriages.

The ITK researchers and computer scientists are adamant: depending on the humidity rate, it is from 31 to 38°C that heat stress increases in cows. The map drawn up for this heatwave Saturday is instructive: in the Landes and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, a mortal risk is to be expected for the cows.

Beyond the risk of death, with such heat, milk production decreases, just like the reproductive rate of cattle. The cow sometimes experiences an increase in her respiratory rate, and in the longer term inflammation of the mammary glands, even hormonal imbalance.

What solutions for farmers?

With the global warmingperiods of high heat are likely to multiply and intensify, increasing the risk of losses for farms, which will therefore have to adapt. The thermal neutrality index (between -5 and 15°C) will be exceeded earlier and earlier.

In 2020them dairy cows were thus exposed for 5 months to thermal stress, causing loss of 4 million liters of milk (68 to 135 liters lost on average per cow).

milk cow
Depending on the region, the impact of heat stress on milk production is felt for 42 to 68 days, spread over 5 months of the year.

The farms will probably have to propose cool zones (foggers, aeration), and farmers individually monitor the behavior of their cows using connected tools, to know when to take them out. In the event of an alert, the breeder could be brought to adjust food rations.

Poultry not spared

Concern can also legitimately increase among poultry farmers, often confined (due to bird flu) in poorly ventilated buildingsassimilated to real furnaces during scorching temperatures.

Responding to this situation, the Vendée prefecture has lifted the poultry containment measures for all farms. Poultry farmers are advised tofeed their animals during the coolest hoursand their provide a constant supply of water to lower their body temperature.


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