Effects of THI changes on milk production and composition of three dairy cattle farms in Mugello from 2010 to 2018: a preliminary study

Chiara Aquilani, Maria Chiara Fabbri, Andrea Confessore, Carolina Pugliese, Francesco Sirtori


Submitted 2020-07-03 | Accepted 2020-09-09 | Available 2020-12-01


Global warming is already affecting several areas and a further increase of 1.5°C is expected by 2050. Dairy cattle are particularly sensitive to high temperature. So, the aim of this study was to examine the effect of temperature-humidity index (THI) on milk traits, considering changes of climatic parameters in the different seasons from 2010 to 2018. The study was conducted in 3 farms located in a hilly-mountainous area of Tuscany, the Mugello, situated from 220 to 450 m above sea level. Data on average daily milk yield and composition were monthly collected in the 3 farms from 2010 to 2018, while climatic parameters were recorded by a climatic station located in the area of the farms. As regards the climatic parameters, no significant variations have been observed in the last decade. The THI calculated thanks to the recording of temperature and humidity of the weather station, during the warmest months, was high enough to cause heat stress. The milk quality traits declined when THI increased. In conclusion, there was not any evidence that global warming has been affecting Mugello, but, despite its altitude, high THI usually reached during spring and summer seasons are already high enough to cause heat stress and a further increase could worsen farm productivity.

Keywords: climate change, milk quality, heat stress, dairy cow


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