Your nutritional strategy can help your cows beat the heat when on-farm management protocols aren’t enough. Lactating dairy cows are prone to heat stress when the temperature humidity index (THI) rises above 68. A drop in milk production follows within 48 hours. While managing heat stress with on-farm protocols is necessary, nutritional solutions can also help mitigate the effects of heat stress. With many heat stress products on the market, how do you know which one is best?
Evaluating nutritional solutions for heat stress
There are three major classes of feed additives for mitigating heat stress including vasodilators (niacin, capsicum), electrolytes (potassium, sodium), and osmolytes. Though all three provide some alleviation to the effects of heat stress, there are some distinct differences between each.
How they work?
Vasodilators are a group of compounds that work to dilate, or open, blood vessels, increasing blood flow in the skin and allowing heat to escape. Electrolytes are substances that help the animal absorb water across tissues, including the intestinal wall. Osmolytes are compounds that work at the cellular level to maintain cell volume and hydration.
Why they work?
Skin vasodilation occurs in the animal during heat stress, and can be easily enhanced with ingredients. Electrolytes make up part of the dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) in diets, and a positive DCAD diet can be fed on an as-needed basis to lactating cows while helping to get water into the animal’s system. Osmolytes prevent cells from becoming dehydrated and help maintain the expression of heat shock proteins. Osmolytes also promote better absorption in the gastrointestinal tract and have been shown to reduce inflammation associated with leaky gut syndrome and other infections. Osmolytes are especially helpful during close-up dry periods when cattle are commonly placed on negative DCAD diets for the prevention of hypocalcemia.
Things to consider
Vasodilators are typically not recommended due to their tendency to decrease blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome. Electrolytes only help to maintain hydration and do not positively affect heat shock proteins or reduce inflammation. To achieve optimum responses, osmolytes should be added to diets at least 10 to 14 days prior to the onset of heat stress.
Experts at Provimi, a leader in animal nutrition and research-based results, recommend increasing energy and protein density of the ration to meet requirements when intake is diminished during heat stress, along with adding Promote® I.C.E.® into your feed strategy. Promote I.C.E. is a proprietary blend of key ingredients that includes an osmolyte and has been shown to help maintain milk production during heat stress.
Promote I.C.E. should be added to the diet when nighttime temperatures stop dropping below 60° F and should be kept in the ration until summer is over or nighttime temperatures are consistently below 60° F.
Promote® is a line of dependable feed additives that are designed to help animal producers enhance performance, uphold animal welfare, and better adapt for tomorrow’s consumers.
For more nutrition tips, or to learn more about the Promote® line of products, visit www.provimiUS.com.