Giving cows a helping hand for handling the heat

Dairy farmers: Ray Kitchen

Region: Western Australia

Topic: Heat Tolerance ABV

Ray Kitchen from Carenda Holsteins at Boyanup WA will be looking at the new Heat Tolerance ABV when making breeding decisions for his 400-cow herd.

“Having a Heat Tolerance ABV will mean we can breed cows with a greater ability to tolerate hot weather, be better suited to our farming environment and not have the same falls in production during hot spells,” he said.

“We will be avoiding using bulls which have low Heat Tolerance ABVs and will be looking for the bulls that pull together production and heat tolerance,”

Ray KitchenMr Kitchen genotypes females so has the Heat Tolerance ABV data for his herd and can see the impact some sires have had on Heat Tolerance.

“We have used bulls in the herd which clearly combine production and Heat Tolerance traits and they are the types of bulls we will be wanting to use in the future.”

While breeding gives cows a helping hand in hot weather, management will still be critical.

The Kitchen’s property at Boyanup regularly experiences summer spells when the day time temperature exceeds 38 degrees C.

“The cows are definitely affected by the heat and we see a drop in production and poor conception rates when the temperatures rise so we avoid breeding the cows over summer,” Ray Kitchen said.

Carenda Holsteins is a family partnership comprising Ray Kitchen, his wife Donna, his brother Mal and his wife Lesley. The year round calving herd is among Australia’s top 10 for genetic merit for profit as measured by the Balanced Performance Index (BPI),

The Heat Tolerance ABV has been included for the first time in DataGene’s December release of Australian Breeding Values.

To breed for improved heat tolerance, look for bulls that combine a high Balanced Performance Index (BPI) with a Heat Tolerance ABV of greater than 100.