Heat stress affects production and welfare in farm animals. In warm weather animals will change their behaviour in order to cool down, for example by seeking shade or other cooler microclimates, and by altering activity patterns, body postures and feed intake. In addition to behavioural changes, physiological mechanisms will occur, such as increased respiration and body temperature. There is consistent evidence that the reduced productivity in association with heat stress can be alleviated by providing different types of cooling. However, more research is needed in order to explore how to best cool farm animals and appropriate cost benefit analyses of providing different types of cooling in New Zealand conditions needs to be carried out to improve profitability and welfare. Animals change their behaviour before changes in production can be detected, therefore animal behaviour can provide insight into when and how to cool animals.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 71, Invercargill, 185-189, 2011
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