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 Shelter Management in Buffaloes 

                                     

Buffaloes have poor thermoregulatory system and are much vulnerable to extreme climatic conditions particularly in summers. Buffaloes are more sensitive to direct solar radiation than cattle due to their black body color, which is conducive to heat absorption. Relatively small number of sweat glands per unit area of skin, and thick epidermal layer of the skin is a limiting factor in heat loss by conduction and radiation. Heat stress results from the animals’ inability to dissipate sufficient heat to maintain homeothermy.

                                      

High air temperature, high humidity, thermal radiation, low air movement and metabolic heat contribute to heat stress in the animals. Body temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate are the three physiological responses considered as an index to the climatic conditions of stresses and comfort. Buffaloes need to be provided with appropriate shelter and controlled environment during extreme hot climate so as to protect them from excessive heat stress. Constant exposure of buffaloes to high ambient temperature raises their physiological response. If they are not provided with comfortable shelter, wallowing or showers, their feed intake may be reduced resulting low growth rate, loss in body weight and decline in milk production.

                                        

The feeding of green fodder during night hours in summers increase growth rate in heifers and milk production in buffaloes as the animals spend more time in eating at coll hours and consumed more dry matter. Variation in temperature beyond 8° to 10°C on either side of the animals comfort zone adversely affects milk production. Therefore, to improve production and reproduction performance of buffaloes, suitable shelter management is essential requirement to provide thermal comfort.