Climatic effects in Central Europe on the frequency of medical treatments of dairy cows
MetadataShow full item record
In the present study, the relationship between the temperature-humidity index (THI) and the incidence of medical treatments in lactating dairy cows in Lower Saxony, Germany, was investigated. Records of all veterinary-treated cases over 2 years (2003 and 2005) from eight Holstein-Friesian dairy herds raised in loose-housing systems (55 to 170 cows per herd) were evaluated. After exclusion of management-dependent and climate-independent cases, a total of 5547 treatments were analyzed. Treatments were clustered into the following groups: metabolism, fertility, udder and foot/leg. Meteorological data were compiled from the nearest weather station (average distance ± s.d. 39 ± 13 km). Hourly temperatures and relative humidity values were used to calculate the THI, which was divided into classes. Out of the total number of treatments, 37.4%, 32.9%, 21.6% and 8.1% belonged to metabolism, udder, fertility and foot/leg, respectively. Data were analyzed with a mixed model that included THI class, season and year as fixed effects and farm as random effect. In general, incidences were neither affected by the year (P > 0.05) and season (P > 0.05) nor by THI classes (P > 0.05). In tendency, incidences of metabolic treatments increased with increasing THI and incidences of udder treatments increased with decreasing THI. In conclusion, indications of moderate heat stress during summer months in Central Europe were found in the present study, although THI and season did not affect the different disease complexes significantly.