Effect of shelter on the performance of Friesian cows during winter in a mediterranean climate (Short communication)

C.J.C. Muller and J.A. Botha
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The effect of different shelters, that is, a shade structure (3.5 m high) in a dry lot and a tie-stall barn in comparison to a dry lot with no protection against climatic conditions (rain and wind), on the milk pro¬duction and some physiological parameters of Dutch-type Friesian cows was determined over 53 days during winter in a temperate climate zone. A complete diet (13.5% CP and 9.6 MJ ME/kg DM) was fed ad libitum daily to cows. Ambient temperatures recorded during the trial were within the thermoneutral zone for dairy cattle (18.5 ± 4.0 and 8.7 ± 2.6 °C for maximum and minimum temperatures respectively). Total rainfall during the trial period was 180.6 mm. Daily precipitation higher than 5.0 mm was recorded on 12 days. Although dry matter intake differed (P < 0.01) between treatments, it was not related to treatment. Daily milk production and milk composition did not differ (P > 0.05) between treatments. Plasma cortisol and thyroxine levels of cows in the different housing systems also did not differ (P > 0.05), indicating no advantage in providing elaborate housing facilities for dairy cows under these climatic conditions.

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