Effect of hot season and type of floor on the microclimate conditions in the pens of beef cattle intensive farms
A study was conducted on a sample of 20 beef cattle farms to verify the effect of season and type of floor on microclimate parameters. Ten farms had multiple pens with slatted floor and 10 with littered floor. Temperature, humidity, THI, NH3 and CO2 were measured with specific instruments during two inspections in summer and winter time. A short interview was also made with the stockman about the adoption of several managing strategies to limit heat stress on animals during the hot period. As expected temperature and THI values recorded in the summer were significantly higher than the winter ones while there were no difference due to the type of floor in the pen. The THI values observed in littered and slatted floor pens (78.6 and 79.0 respectively) in the summer inspection were over 75, the recognized threshold for heat stress in cattle. Noxious gasses concentrations were unaffected by season and type of floor resulting far below their toxic concentration for cattle. According to the stockman interviews, there is a clear perception of the detrimental effect of the hot season on cattle welfare which impairs feed intake. Some preventive strategies are applied in most cases but they appear insufficient and often not operative when needed.