How Seasonal Changes Affect Cows
Seasonal changes affect us all. Everything from our moods to our immunity and internal clocks can be tied to seasons. When it comes to being vulnerable to seasonal changes, your cows are no different.
Milk production is one important aspect that has been shown to adapt to the seasons each year. In the spring and summer, of course, the days continue to grow longer, while also warming up. The increase in daylight hours signals to a cow to produce more milk. Some farmers even buy LED lights for their barns so they can artificially make light last 16+ hours per day, thus increasing their herd’s overall milk production.
The reverse is true in the winter. As the days begin to grow shorter and colder, you may see milk production decrease herd-wide. To restore and improve milk production levels, many farmers turn to LED lights and heating solutions. Planning for these seasonal changes is vital to your business, and can limit the effects that daylight hours can have on your cows.
It’s not as simple as marking the summer and winter solstices on your calendar though. Studies have shown that a bit more may factor in here. For example, one study, conducted on more than 400,000 cows, found that the highest milk production came in March, while the lowest came in September. These months are of note because they contain the spring and autumnal equinoxes, respectively. This suggests that the amount of daylight is not the only factor; it may also be the rate of change in daylight that makes an impact on milk production.
There’s not much we can control about seasonal changes, but you can utilize LED lighting in different ways throughout the year. With proper coordination of lighting, along with feeding and milking, you can see milk production grow.
As we quickly approach the spring equinox, and longer days, it’s a great time to look at your facility and its procedures. Is your farm equipped for the year’s seasonal changes? We can help you get ready for every season. Contact us here to learn more.