The hot weather inevitably limits cattle species’ reproductive and productive abilities, with summertime highs of 48°C. The plains, seashore, and foothill regions of the Indian subcontinent—home to over 90% of the world’s buffaloes—experience various harsh climatic extremes. The fact that there are so many buffaloes in such extreme climatic circumstances shows that they are acclimate to these settings.
However, it is commonly accept that buffaloes are susceptible to heat exhaustion because of their thick black skin, which is more absorbent of the region’s high levels of sunlight. Additionally, the Murrah buffalo‘s sparse hair coat is considered insufficient to protect it from extreme heat. Buffalo skin has fewer (nearly 1/6th less) deep-located sweat glands than Zebu skin, which hinders heat dissipation by evaporative heat loss.
Due to their odd morphological and anatomical traits, Murrah bhains are poor thermoregulators. They tend to increase their internal body heat, negatively affecting their ability to consume food, be productive, and reproduce. As a result, milk is scarce during the summer, whereas most calvings occur in the winter and rainy seasons.
Murrah buffalo has natural protection against heat stress:
Black skin is distinctive for having a lot of melanin granules. Which shield the skin from the UV rays of sunlight. In the typically hot tropical climes, UV rays are exceptionally high. Sebaceous glands in the dermis of buffaloes are well-develop, and their greasy secretions render skin slick to water and mud. In the summer, oil secretions from the skin make it more glossy to reflect sun rays better.
Common symptoms associated with heat stress
- Significant strain and spasms in the muscles brought on by a warm environment.
- Excessive bodily fluid loss results in fatigue (often through sweat).
- Failure of the body’s thermoregulatory system results in a rise in body temperature without sweating and, if untreated, death.
How to Recognize Heat Stress in Murrah Buffalo?
- Change in consciousness: quick pulse and shallow breathing;
- Abnormal critical signs: Elevated heart rate, breathing rate, and rectal temperature are
- Unusual salivation: Rapid capillary refill
When suffering from heat stroke, the body temperature of Murrah bhains might reach 106–108°F. Since heat stroke poses a severe risk to life. It is crucial to move the animal to a cooler location, give it a cold water bath, wrap it in wet sheets, and provide a fan. Dizziness or unconsciousness are warning signs of heat exhaustion.
Management of Heat Stress in Murrah Buffalo
Modifying the environment is a good management approach since it helps the animal release heat while reducing its environmental effects. Several management techniques can be use to treat heat stress in buffaloes, including providing shade, enhancing air movement, and frequently misting the animal with cold water for enhance evaporative cooling. Here are the details:
- Simple shade is the most basic way to shield buffaloes from the sun’s rays during warm days. Trees and plants are the most efficient sources of shade. In addition to offering sun protection, they also produce a cooling effect by evaporating moisture from their leaves.
- Airflow is crucial for the animal’s comfort and cooling when it’s hot and humid outside. Aside from moving the animal to a shaded, breezy location, the area can also be made airier by installing dairy fans and various coolers. As long as the air temperature is lower than the animal’s skin temperature, air movement accelerates the rate of heat loss from the animal’s body surface.
- Several cooling systems, including holding-pen cooling, exit-lane cooling, and free-stall cooling, have been developed for evaporative cooling. The animals kept in enclosed cemented sheds are suitable for these systems. Compared to repeatedly bathing the animals, an evaporative system that combines water mist and a fan is more efficient and uses less water. Some farmers favour installing sprinklers or misters on the roof or in various locations throughout the barn. Using “mist fans,” which combine air movement with evaporation, is more efficient, cost-effective, and practical than just fans and wetness.
Feeding Strategies For Managing Heat Stress
Here are a few crucial nutritional management areas you should consider when it’s hot outside:
- Water is the most crucial nutrient for Murrah buffalo during hot climates. Although dry matter intake and milk yield are directly tied to water consumption, plenty of water must always be accessible to animals in hot weather.
- Night grazing must be allowed to avoid them coming in direct contact with sunlight.
- Compared to diets high in fibre, those high in fermentable carbohydrates have a lower dietary heat rise. Heat stress reduces feed intake in dairy buffaloes even if their metabolic energy increases in a hot climate. To ensure that dairy buffaloes continue to consume enough energy in hot weather, it is crucial to boost the energy content of their diet.
Buffalo try to adapt to hot, humid settings by changing their physiological processes. Such as reducing their feed intake and heat production. But this comes at the cost of some of their output. Understanding and efficiently combating heat stress by reducing its effects on the animal’s body and productivity is necessary to stop this financial loss to the farmer. Farmers can connect with experienced veterinarians regarding their buffaloes and take advice from experts through MeraPashu360.