Dependence of milk production of dairy sheep on climate conditions

Milan Margetín, Mária Milanová, Marta Oravcová, Martin janíček, Klára Vavrišínová


Article Details: Received: 2020-10-14 | Accepted: 2020-11-27 | Available online: 2021-01-31

The aim of the study was to determine the influence of selected climatic characteristics on the milk production of ewes during lactation. Data of ewes from sheep farm Liptovská Teplička located in moderate climate zone (latitude 48°57'50.3"N, longitude 20°04'31.0"E) were analysed. In period from 2017 to 2019, the following milk traits: total morning milk production (TMPM), total evening milk production (TMPE), total morning+evening production (TMPM+E) and average daily milk production per ewe (ADMP) were measured on a daily basis. Traditional (Carpatian) production system was applied: ewes were on pasture and machine milked twice a day. Climate characteristics were monitored in 10-minute intervals by standard weather station (supplier: firm PHYSICUS), located near sheep farm. The influence of air temperature - T (°C), of relative humidity - RH (%), of wind speed (m.s-1) and of total precipitation (mm)recorded daily between 5 a.m. and 4 p.m. in period from April to September on milk traits was analysed. Temperature-humidity index (THI) was calculated according to National Research formula. The influence of year, of month and of interaction year x month was also analysed. Covariance analysis and Pearson correlation coefficients using statistical programme SASv9.2 (procedures GLM and CORR) were employed. The influence of month and of interaction year x month, respectively, on milk traits was found (P<0.001). Temperature significantly influenced TMPM+E (P<0.01) and ADMP (P<0.05). The remaining climate characteristics, mainly wind speed and RH had not significant influence on milk traits. Heat-humidity index significantly influenced TMPM (P<0.001) and ADMP (P<0.01), respectively. Residual correlation between ADMP and THI was -0.166 (P<0.001). Three of four milk traits of ewes assigned to group cold stress (THI<40.0) were significantly lower (P<0.05) than respective milk traits of ewes milked in days without heat or cold stress (THI >40.0 and THI <= 68.0). Preliminary results suggest that milk production traits of dairy sheep may be significantly influenced by climate also in moderate climatic zone.

Keywords:  sheep, thermal stress, milk yield, temperate zone


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