We must take two crucial routes to mitigate the effects of heat stress. It’s important to ensure:
- Overall health improvements
- Proper nutritional strategy
Both these routes are not only crucial during heat stress but are, in fact, essential during all stages of the animal’s life. Here’s a breakdown of both routes with our recommended solutions:
1) Overall health improvements
Improving dry matter intake to sustain and enhance productivity during heat stress can be done through two strategies: supplementing Choline and balancing dietary cation-anion (DCAB):
Choline. Choline nutrition has received much attention recently due to its role in improving liver function. Besides higher production levels, Choline’s role in improving dry matter intake, immunity, and health creates a strong argument for increased provision of bioavailable Choline. We have seen that holine alters the plasma NEFA concentration increasing the export of hepatic fat. This results in less hepatic fat concentration and, therefore, improved liver functioning, leading to optimal dry matter intake.
Balancing dietary cation-anion (DCAB). Dietary cation-anion balancing (DCAB) improves dry matter intake in animals. When plasma calcium levels fall during hypocalcemia, rumination activity suffers. Rumination is characterized by a complex series of muscle contractions that bring a bolus of ingesta to the mouth for further mastication before swallowing it again. DCAB can overcome reduced rumination caused by hypocalcemia in pre-calving cows subjected to heat stress.
Two recently published meta-analyses on the supplementation of rumen-protected Choline and one meta-analysis on DCAB show that Choline and DCAB significantly improve dry matter intake, which is critical in optimizing farm profitability. Alongwith, Choline nutrition with CholiGEM™ and DCAB with NutriCAB™ .
2) Proper Nutritional Strategy — Diets with rumen-protected amino acids (AA), Methionine, and Lysine
Effective nutritional management and proper ration formulation are vital and positively impact health and production, therefore mitigating the negative effects of heat stress in dairy cows.
During heat stress, rumen and small intestine functionality are completely altered, affecting digestibility and feed efficiency, as well as metabolic adaptations to reduced intake and a reduction in endogenous heat produced to maintain gluconeogenesis.
That’s why precision feeding with Amino Acid nutrition, is crucial to reducing the effects of heat stress on animals. Formulating low-rumen degradable protein and also low-rumen undegradable protein diets along with meeting methionine (Met) and lysine (Lys) requirements reduces circulating insulin levels and improves both protein efficiency and the metabolic status of heat-stressed cows due to better AA utilization.
The only feasible way to achieve the above is by improving the protein quality supply, increasing, the level of the first two limiting AA, Met, and Lys with an adequate energy level in diets.
One fact is clear — no matter the production level, temperature-humidity (THI) index, or ingredients used in the diet, we cannot cover the Met and Lys needs without using both rumen-protected Met and Lys.
Coupled with that, formulating with AA is one of the most cost-effective ways to support health and performance during all periods, including during heat stress.