Le stress de chaleur chez la vache laitière : effets sur les performances de production des troupeaux laitiers québécois

Authors: Ouellet, Véronique
Advisor: Charbonneau, ÉdithSantschi, Débora
Abstract: The main objective of this thesis was to provide information about heat stress related production impacts in Québec dairy herds. The relationship between on-farm summer environmental conditions and data retrieved from local meteorological stations was first investigated on six dairy farms. Secondly, the relationship between measurements previously established was considered in order to verify if temperature-humidity index (THI) calculations with weather station data could be adapted to better represent on-farm conditions. The farms recruited in the study were located in two contrasting dairy regions of the Province: East (EQ) and Southwest Quebec (SWQ). Our results showed that in both regions ambient temperature (AT) was consistently higher (P < 0.001) on-farm compared to AT measured at the weather station. The opposite was observed with relative humidity (RH), as it was significantly lower on-farm in EQ and numerically (P > 0.05) lower in SWQ compared to RH extracted from weather stations. Overall, this led to lower (P < 0.001) THI by 4.6 and 3.7 units at the weather stations compared to within-barn conditions for EQ and SWQ farms, respectively. Hence, using local meteorological station data to estimate on-farm conditions would lead to an underestimation of heat stress level in dairy cows. Adapting THI calculations by including daily maximum AT, and minimum RH retrieved from local weather station instead of their average counterparts led to a better estimation of within-barn conditions. However, difference between THI measured on-farm compared to the adapted THI calculated with weather station data remained significant. Although the adaption allowed for a closer relation to on-farm conditions, THI calculated with weather station data should only be used to gauge heat stress level in cows when heat stress thresholds are adapted for such data. In a second study, the relationship between milk performance and the cumulative number of days with heat stress was investigated with a multivariate model. A 6-year dataset containing 606,031 milk analysis records for 34,360 Holstein dairy cows at different parities was matched with the corresponding daily maximum THI. On average, cows were exposed to heat stress conditions for 135.8 ± 5.9 days per year in SWQ and 95.3 ± 10.2 days per year in EQ. Cows experiencing heat-stress conditions produced on average less fat, protein, and energy-corrected milk and lower fat and protein concentrations (P < 0.05). The decrease in milk fat reached a maximum of 6 % after an exposure of 7 to 8 heat stress days in cows at parity of three or more. The association between heat stress exposition duration and milk and lactose yields was weak (P > 0.05). Ultimately, heat stress lowered milk fat and protein production but had little effect on milk volume output. Further research is necessary to understand better the mechanism underlying the effects of sporadic low-to-medium-intensity heat stress on dairy productivity. The objective of the third study was to project milk performance of Holstein dairy cows under different climate scenarios through a reference period (REF: 1971–2000), near future (NF: 2020–2049) and distant future (DF: 2050–2079) using a predictive multivariate model. Moreover, this study provided information about the evolution of economic losses due to decreases in milk components associated with heat stress in Québec, Canada. Daily ambient temperature and relative humidity were derived from six climate scenarios in order to calculate daily THI through REF, NF and DF. Secondly, the model developed in the prior study was adapted to project annual milk performance of 71 dairy herds located in EQ and SWQ during the three aforementioned time horizons. Under NF climate conditions and relative to the reference period, projected fat and protein yields declined respectively by 2405 ± 10 and by 1990 ± 7 kg/yr per herd in EQ whereas decreases reached 2361 ± 147 and 2057 ± 17 kg/yr per herd in SWQ. Relative to the reference period, decreases in major milk components reached a maximum during DF in both regions. Ultimately, projected milk components declines resulted in average economic losses ranging from 5.02 to 7.07 can$/hL per EQ herds and from 4.75 to 6.99 can$/hL per SWQ herds.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 13 December 2019
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/37553
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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