Effects of thermal stress on physiological state and hormone concentrations in Holstein cows under arid climatic conditions

Author: H. Djelailia, N. M’Hamdi, R. Bouraoui & T. Najar
Year: 2021
Issue: 4
Volume: 51
Page: 452 - 459

This study was conducted to investigate the effect of heat stress on the physiology of dairy cows and to detect the relationship between rectal temperature (RT) and respiration rate (RR), heart rate (HR), and plasma concentrations of cortisol, thyroxine, and prolactin. During the experiment, 44 Holstein cows were allocated to two groups for each season. The average temperature-humidity index (THI) values were 55 ± 2.31 in winter and 78 ± 1.9 in summer. As the THI values increased from 55 to 78, RR rose by 35 inspirations per minute, HR by 3 beats per minute, and RT by 1.2 °C. In addition, the average concentration of cortisol increased from 19.30 to 21.04 nmol/L, and prolactin from 58.52 to 129.79 ngm/L, whereas free thyroxine decreased from 15.43 to 14.01 pmol/L. Plasma sodium and potassium concentrations were similar in the two seasons. These results confirmed that RT is an indicator of the response in dairy cows to hot environmental temperatures. However, they also showed signs of stress, which were reflected in higher levels of cortisol and in certain physiological responses.

Keywords: dairy cows, heat stress, physiology, rectal temperature, temperature-humidity index
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