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Metabolic conditions of lactating Friesian cows during the hot season in the Po valley. 1. Blood indicators of heat stress

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In two consecutive summers, 21 and 18 cows, respectively, were monitored for blood parameters and milk yield, to assess their variation according to the level of heat stress at different stages of lactation. During both years, the cows were monitored according to their lactation phase (early, mid-, and late) at the beginning of the summer. Climatic conditions were described through the temperature humidity index. Cows were monitored for breathing rate, rectal temperature, blood metabolites and enzymes, and milk yield. In the first year, two hotter periods were identified, with more severe conditions in the second one, when cows had rectal temperatures higher than 40°C. In the second year, only one hotter period was identified, with a heat stress comparable to that of the first period of the first year. Milk yield declined during the hotter period; in both years, a higher reduction in milk yield was recorded for cows in the mid-stage of lactation. The decrease in plasma glucose during the hotter period was evident in both years. Plasma cholesterol also decreased in those periods. The reduction in plasma ALP activity in the hotter period of both years confirmed the role of this enzyme as a quick and reliable heat-stress blood marker.

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This research was conducted with a grant from the Emilia-Romagna region.

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Correspondence to Luigi Calamari.

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Abeni, F., Calamari, L. & Stefanini, L. Metabolic conditions of lactating Friesian cows during the hot season in the Po valley. 1. Blood indicators of heat stress. Int J Biometeorol 52, 87–96 (2007).

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