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Agronomía Mesoamericana

On-line version ISSN 2215-3608Print version ISSN 1659-1321


RUIZ-JARAMILLO, Juan Ismael; VARGAS-LEITON, Bernardo; ABARCA-MONGE, Sergio  and  HIDALGO, Hugo G.. Heat stress effect on dairy cattle production in Costa Rica. Agron. Mesoam [online]. 2019, vol.30, n.3, pp.733-750. ISSN 2215-3608.

Introduction. Dairy production in tropical zones is characterized by a high dependence on the forage resource, which makes it sensitive to climatic variables of which there is limited information on their effect on the performance of specialized dairy breeds. Objective. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between temperature and humidity index (THI) and daily milk production (kgl) of cows breeds Holstein, Jersey, and their crosses. Materials and methods. The study was conducted in the northern and central regions of Costa Rica, with data collected between 1990 and 2015. THI values were obtained using linear predictive models and spatial autocorrelation models, applied to 3,547 monthly records of maximum temperature and relative humidity from seventeen weather stations. 6,478,582 kgl records from 418 dairy herds were analyzed, using a generalized mixed linear model (GLMM), which considered the fixed effects of breed, year and month, birth number, lactation stage, breed × lactation stage, ENSO (Effect “El Niño”), ITH and breed×ITH, in addition to a random effect of the cow. Results. All factors had a highly significant effect (p<0.0001) on kgl. For the ITH range between 72-88, linear reductions of 0.41 (r2=0.94), 0.36 (r2=0.95) and 0.29 (r2=0.82) kg day-1 were estimated for Holstein, Holstein×Jersey and Jersey, respectively. No significant trends were observed for kgl when ITH <72. The economic losses attributable to the greater stress exposure in the north compared to the central region were estimated at $680, $587 and $477 per lactation and cow for Holstein, Holstein×Jersey and Jersey, respectively. Conclusion. There was an inverse relationship between temperature and humidity index and milk production in Holstein, Jersey and crossbreed cows for this tropical region.

Keywords : milk production; heat tolerance; climate change; heat stress.

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