Milk yield and hair coat characteristics of Holstein cows in a hot environment

  • Filiberto Anzures
  • Leticia Gaytán
  • Ulises Macías-Cruz
  • Leonel Avendaño-Reyes
  • José E. García
  • Miguel MelladoEmail author
Regular Articles


This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of hair coat characteristics on thermophysiological variables and body surface temperatures (BST), measured with infrared thermography, as well as milk yield of Holstein cows in a hot environment. Physiological and milk yield variables were assessed using 103 pluriparous Holstein cows. Also, hair angle (HA), density of hair coat (D), diameter of hair (HD), hair length (HL), weight of hair coat (Wt), and coat thickness (CT) were recorded. Biplot analysis (principal components analysis) revealed that HL was closely associated with Wt, CT, and HD and all these variables had a positive association with rectal temperature. Both CT and HL were found to be negatively associated with shoulder and neck temperature; tympanic temperature showed no association with BTS. Cows with short hair coat (length < 17 mm) did not produce more milk in 305 days than cows with longer hair coat (9673 ± 1604 vs. 9277 ± 817; P = 0.12). On the other hand, milk fat percentage at the middle of lactation was higher (P < 0.01) in cows with longer hair relative to cows with coat hair < 17 mm (3.71 vs. 3.35%, respectively). In conclusion, physical characteristics of the coat of Holstein cows were not associated with the 305-day milk yield but cows with longer hair produced a greater milk fat percentage at the middle of lactation compared to cows with short hair.


Hair length Hair diameter Hair weight Body surface temperature Rectal temperature 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Bell, A.W., 1995. Regulation of organic nutrient metabolism during transition from late pregnancy to early lactation. Journal of Animal Science, 73, 2804–2819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernabucci, U., Biffani, S., Buggiotti, L., Vitali, A., Lacetera, N., Nardone, A., 2014. The effects of heat stress in Italian Holstein dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 97, 471–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertipaglia, E.C.A., da Silva, R.G., Cardoso, V., Fries, L.A., 2007. Hair coat characteristics and sweating rate of Bradford cows in Brazil. Livestock Science, 112, 99–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Collier, R.J., Gebremedhin, K.G., 2015. Thermal Biology of Domestic Animals. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences, 3, 513–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dikmen, S., Alava, E., Pontes, E., Fear, J.M., Dikmen, B.Y., Olson, T.A., Hansen, P.J., 2008. Differences in thermoregulatory ability between slick-haired and wild-type lactating Holstein cows in response to acute heat stress. Journal of Dairy Science, 91, 3395–3402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dikmen, S., Khan, F.A., Huson, H.J., Sonstegard, T.S., Moss, J.I., Dahl, G.E., Hansen, P.J., 2014. The slick hair locus derived from Senepol cattle confers thermotolerance to intensively managed lactating Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 97, 5508–5520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Façanha, D.A.E. de da Silva, M.R.G., Maia, A.S.C., Guilhermino M.M., de Vasconcelos, A.M., 2010. Variação anual de características morfológicas e da temperatura de superfície do pelame de vacas da raça Holandesa em ambiente semiárido. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 39, 837–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gaughan, J.B., Holt, S.M. Hahn, G.L., Mader, T.L., Eigenberg, R., 2000. Respiration rate – is it a good measure of heat stress in cattle? Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Science, 13, 329–332. Google Scholar
  9. Gebremedhin, K.G., Wu, B.X., 2003. Characterization of flow field in a ventilated space and simulation of heat exchange between cows and their environment. Journal of Thermal Biology, 28, 301–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gebremedhin, K.G., Ni, H., Hillman, P.E., 1997. Modeling temperature profile and heat flux through irradiated coat layer. Transactions of the ASAE, 40, 1441–1447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gebremedhin, K.G., Hillman, P.E., Lee, C.N., Collier, R.J., Willard, S.T., Arthington, J.D., Brown-Brandl, T.M., 2008. Sweating rates of dairy cows and beef heifers in hot conditions. Transaction of the ASAE, 51, 2167–2178.Google Scholar
  12. Lee, D.H.K., 1953. Manual of field studies on the heat tolerance of domestic animals. FAO, Roma.Google Scholar
  13. Mader, T.L., Davis, M.S., Brown-Brandl, T., 2006. Environmental factors influencing heat stress in feedlot cattle. Journal of Animal Science, 84, 712–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Maia, A.S.C., Silva, R.G., Bertipaglia, E.A., 2003. Características do pelame de vacas Holandesas em ambiente Tropical: um estudo genético e adaptativo. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 32, 843–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Maia, A.S.C., Silva, R. G, Bertipaglia, E.C.A., Muñoz, M.C., 2005. Genetic variation of the hair coat properties and the milk yield of Holstein cows managed under shade in a tropical environment. Brazilian Journal of Veterinary Research and Animal Science, 42, 180–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Maia, A.S.C., Silva, R.G. da, de Souza Junior, J.B.F., da Silva, R.B., Domingos, H.G.T., 2009. Effective thermal conductivity of the hair coat of Holstein cows in a tropical. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 38, 2218–2223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Miglior, F., Sewalem, A., Jamrozik, J., Bohmanova, J., Lefebvre, D.M., Moore, R.K., 2007. Genetic analysis of milk urea nitrogen and lactose and their relationships with other production traits in Canadian Holstein cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 90, 2468–2479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. München-Alfonzo, E.P., Barbosa da Silva, M.V. G., dos Santos Daltro, D., Tempel Stumpf, M., Calderaro Dalcin, V., Kolling, G., Fischer, V., McManus, C.M., 2016. Relationship between physical attributes and heat stress in dairy cattle from different genetic groups. International Journal of Biometeorology, 60, 245–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. NRC., 2001. Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. 7th rev. ed. Natl. Acad. Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  20. Olson, T.A., Lucena, C., Chase Jr. C.C., Hammond, A.C., 2003. Evidence of a major gene influencing hair length and heat tolerance in Bos taurus cattle. Journal of Animal Science, 81, 80–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Olson, T.A., Chase Jr., C.C., Lucena, C., Godoy, E., Zuniga, A., Collier, R.J., 2006. Effect of hair characteristics on the adaptation of cattle to warm climates. 8th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.Google Scholar
  22. Rhoads, M.L., Rhoads, R.P., VanBaale, M.J., Collier, R.J., Sanders, S.R., Weber, W.J., Crooker, B.A., Baumgard, L.H., 2009. Effects of heat stress and plane of nutrition on lactating Holstein cows: I. Production, metabolism, and aspects of circulating somatotropin. Journal of Dairy Science, 92, 1986–1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Silva R.G., 1999. Estimativa do balanço térmico por radiação em vacas Holandesas expostas ao sol e à sombra em ambiente tropical. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 6, 1403–1411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Srikandakumar, A., Johnson, E.H., 2004. Effect of heat stress on milk production, rectal temperature, respiratory rate and blood chemistry in Holstein, Jersey and Australian Milking Zebu cows. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 36, 685–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tyrrell, H.F., Reid, J.T., 1965. Prediction of the energy value of cow’s milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 48, 1215–1223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal NutritionAutonomous Agrarian University Antonio NarroSaltilloMexico
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary ScienceAutonomous Agrarian University Antonio NarroTorreonMexico
  3. 3.Institute of Agriculture ScienceAutonomous University of Baja CaliforniaMexicaliMexico

Personalised recommendations