Combating Heat Stress Effects in Cows: The Right Intake of Fats Can Help
Musim Mas , through our subsidiary ICOF, is a leading supplier of oils and fats throughout the ruminant and monogastric feed industries. Our MaxiFat® range of animal feed products caters to the needs of dairy, beef, poultry, and swine feed.
What is Heat Stress in Cattle
Like most other mammals, heat stress in cattle, including dairy cattle and beef cattle, occurs when they produce more heat than they can get rid of through respiration and sweat. Higher temperatures, solar heat, and humidity are the key factors that cause heat stress in cows.
Why Does Heat Stress Matter for Cows?
Heat stress can result in higher body temperatures and have a significant impact on the health and productivity of the herd, including:
- Lower milk production in lactating cows
- Higher susceptibility to disease and even death
- Poorer pregnancy rates
- Calves born with lower birth weights
Signs of Heat Stress in Cows
In assessing the signs, it’s important to remember that core temperature in cows peaks around two hours after the peak environmental temperature of the day. It then takes them at least six hours to dissipate the heat. Some key signs of heat stress to look out for are:
- Clinical signs: Increase in body temperature, and respiration rate
- Physical signs: Panting, breathing with open mouths, extended necks, and a decline in milk production
- Behavioral signs: Drop in dry matter intake and crowding around cooler parts of the shed or water troughs
Preventing Heat Stress
In dairy cows, heat stress can reduce feed intakes and affect rumen function, negatively affecting milk production and often causing milk fat depression. Optimizing the rumen function is critical to help sustain milk fat concentrations.
Fermentable carbohydrates, like sugar, fiber, and starch, heat up when broken down in the rumen. Therefore they are not ideal for heat stress conditions as the cows will have a lower feed intake and stand more to try to cool down and expel energy. This standing can reduce the adequate rumination time and increase the incidences of acidosis, further reducing feed utilization and intake. Ways to prevent heat stress in cows:
- Providing sufficient shade to reduce direct sun exposure
- Ensuring sufficient ventilation in the barns, using fans and cross-ventilation systems as needed
- Installing water cooling, such as the use of misting systems, with sufficient ventilation to allow for evaporation
- Providing sufficient hydration, especially for lactating cows, as they require more
- Planning for adequate rest based on weather forecasts to avoid working cows during high temperatures
- Feeding the right nutrients, such as rumen-protected fats
How Feeding Protected Fats Can Help Manage Heat Stress in Cows
Feeding bypass fats or protected fats can increase energy density within the ration – Without taking up too much space, help with reproduction rates and improve milk and constituent production.
To reduce the heating effect caused by fermentation in the rumen, consider increasing the fat content within the diet to maintain energy. Unlike carbohydrates, fat is a ‘cool ingredient’ because it bypasses the rumen and is absorbed into the bloodstream.
At ICOF, we offer a range of rumen bypass fats, high in C16, which can prove effective in helping to maintain energy levels without overloading the rumen function. All are produced within our manufacturing facilities.
MaxiFat®: Our high C16 is highly effective at stimulating and lifting milk fat production under heat stress conditions, helping to avoid that inevitable fat decline. MaxiFat® provides the right fats for healthy and productive livestock. Speaking to your nutritionist before making any changes is always advisable, ensuring you meet your intended fatty acid profile to hit your targets.
For more information and to review our full range of offers, please visit our dedicated MaxiFat® site.