Cornell Research Offset Effects of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Cornell Research Seeks to Better Understand, Offset Effects of Heat Stress on Dairy Cows

Summer is right around the corner. For dairy cows, summer heat isn’t just uncomfortable — it’s also detrimental to their immune system, fertility and productivity. A team of Cornell University researchers, led by Dr. Joseph McFadden, is conducting a project to learn more about the ramifications of heat stress in order to help U.S. dairy producers better mitigate it through nutritional solutions and other innovations.

Photo Credit: Jasper Nijland Photography

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) asserts that heat-stressed dairy cows cost the American dairy industry $1.5 billion each year. The organization recently awarded a grant to develop innovative ways to reduce the impact of heat stress on dairy cows and improve their ability to withstand extreme heat. The grant was funded in part by Phibro Animal Health Corporation, AB Vista, Adisseo, Balchem Corporation, Berg + Schmidt, Elanco and Vetagro S.p.A. The group invested $736,000, which was matched by FFAR to fund the $1.47 million grant.

“As a leader in research associated with the negative impact of heat stress on dairy cow production, Phibro’s Research and Technical Team looks forward to working with Dr. McFadden and his team to develop innovative ways to reduce the impact of heat stress on dairy herds,” says Derek McLean, Ph.D., senior director, collaborative research, Phibro Animal Health. “It’s collaboration like this that will help U.S. dairy producers continue to produce quality milk and dairy products despite environmental variations.”

Overcoming BarriersAs principal investigator, McFadden will lead a team in exploring the relationship among dairy cattle gut health, intestinal permeability, liver health, immunity and milk production. In doing so, the team will seek nutrition-based solutions to improve a dairy cow’s ability to withstand heat stress.

McFadden received a B.S. degree with Distinction in Research from the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University, along with an M.S. degree in Dairy Science from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. His most recent research efforts have challenged current fatty acid and methyl donor feeding practices in dairy cattle. His work has been made possible by state, federal and industry support, which he says furthers his goal of helping dairy cows better adapt to different forms of stress including extreme heat while maintaining health and milk production — a timely goal, given the challenges facing the dairy industry today.

“The resilience of agricultural production systems, like dairy, will unequivocally determine whether food security can overcome climate change and world population growth,” McFadden says. “The global demand for dairy will certainly increase, but heat-stressed cows are inefficient milk producers. We need to give producers the technologies and strategies that they need in order to provide the world with high-quality and nutrient-rich dairy products.”

Source: About Phibro Animal Health CorporationPhibro Animal Health Corporation is a diversified global developer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of animal health and mineral nutrition products for livestock, helping veterinarians and farmers produce healthy, affordable food while using fewer natural resources. For more information, visit their website.

Scroll to Top