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KemTRACE® Chromium and Heat Stress

Heat stress can compromise a lactating cow's performance in many different ways – decreased feed intake, altered metabolism, reduced milk production, impaired reproductive performance and increased disease incidence.1,2,3 In Canada, heat stress can cause milk loss up to 3.5 kg/day.4 The inability of a cow to dissipate heat effectively compromises their ability to function normally all the way down to the molecular level.5


Impact of Chromium on Heat Stress

Evidence suggests insulin action is a key component of heat stress response.8 Chromium improves insulin function and results in efficient clearance of glucose from the bloodstream.9 Increased glucose availability and utilization may have significant benefits. Chromium supplementation minimizes the negative effects of the stress response by consistently decreasing serum cortisol during stressful periods for cattle.11,12,13

Chromium supplementation has been shown to:

  • Increase insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization9
  • Improve dry matter intake (DMI) in heat stressed cows10
  • Improve DMI during heat stress to help maintain milk production10

Impacts of Heat Stress

Heat stress is one of the costliest issues facing dairy producers and has consistently been associated with:

  • Reduced dry matter intake(DMI)6,7
  • Altered metabolism6,7
  • Reduced milk production6,7
  • Reduced reproductive performance6,7
  • Increased disease incidence6,

Impact on Milk Yield

Research studies, designed to test the effect of chromium on milk yield under heat stress conditions, have shown cows supplemented with chromium have increased dry matter intake and yield more milk than control cows.10

Supplemental Chromium Impacts Milk Yield During Heat Stress

Dry Matter Intake and Daily Milk Yield (kg) - Canada

Response in daily milk yield, kg/h/d and dry matter intake, kg/h/d compared to the control within the study.
*Denotes significant difference from control.

Figure 1. Effect of chromium supplementation in lactating dairy cow diets on response in daily milk yield and dry matter intake, kg/h/d under heat stress conditions.

Supplemental Chromium Helps Improve Performance During Heat Stress

Feeding supplemental chromium to dairy cows in prepartum and postpartum diets has consistently increased milk yield of cows during lactation. The influence of chromium on milk production has been attributed to its effects on energy metabolism reflected through decreased mobilization of NEFA from adipose tissue and increased insulin sensitivity. Increased glucose availability and utilization may have significant benefits to milk production during extended periods of heat stress at different stages of lactation. Research studies, designed to test the effect of chromium on milk yield under heat stress conditions, have all shown cows supplemented with chromium yielded more milk than control cows.14


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Heat Stress Biology: Practical Management and Nutritional Strategies

There are a variety of situations in an animal's life when nutrient utilization is re-prioritized from productive towards agriculturally unproductive purposes. Two well-known examples that markedly reduce production are heat stress and ketosis. Decreased feed intake, experienced during both diseases, is unable to fully explain decreases in productivity. Additionally, both diseases are characterized by negative energy balance, body weight loss, inflammation and hepatic steatosis. While the metabolism of ketosis and heat stress have been thoroughly studied for the last 40 years, the initial insult in the cascade of events ultimately reducing productivity in both heat stressed and ketotic cows has not been identified. The focus of the presentation is to review practical management strategies that can be used to help mitigate the impact of heat stress.

Effects of Heat Stress on Gut Health and Immune System Nutrient Requirements

Heat stress and ketosis reduce efficiency. Decreased feed intake experienced during both situations is unable to fully explain the suboptimal productivity. Heat stress and ketosis affect herds of all sizes and almost every dairy region of the U.S. Dr. Baumgard hypothesizes the common etiological origin of both metabolic disorders as "leaky gut." Leaky gut and the resulting endotoxin infiltration alter nutrient partitioning and is a causative agent in metabolic disruption during heat stress and ketosis. Identifying dietary approaches that can improve gut barrier dysfunction is paramount in developing nutritional strategies aimed at improving intestinal health.



1Fuquay et al., 1981. J. Anim. Sci. 52:164-174.
2Kadzere et al., 2002. Livest. Prod. Sci., 77(1):59-91.
3West et al., 2003. J. Dairy Sci. 86(6):2131-2144.
4St-Pierre, N. R. 2003. J. Dairy Sci. 86:E52-E77.
5Collier et al., 1982. J. Dairy Sci. 65:2213-2227.
6Collier, R. J., D. K. Beede, W. W. Thatcher, L. A. Israel, and C. J. Wilcox. 1982. J. Dairy Sci. 65(11):2213-2227.
7Bernabucci, U., N. Lacetera, L. H. Baumgard, R. P. Rhoads, B. Ronchi, and A. Nardone. 2010. Animal. 4(7):1167-1183.
8Wheelock, J. B., R. P. Rhoads, M. J. Vanbaale, S. R. Sanders, and L. H. Baumgard. 2010. J. Dairy Sci. 93:644-655.
9Mertz, W. 1992. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 32:3-8.
10Kemin Internal Document, 15-00066.
11Chang, X., and D. N. Mowat. 1992. J. Anim. Sci. 70:559.
12Moonsie-Shageer, S., and D. N. Mowat. 1993. J. Anim. Sci. 71:232.
13Burton, J. L., B. J. Nonnecke, T. H. Elsasser, B. A. Mallard, W. Z. Yang, and D. N. Mowat. 1995b. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. 49:29.
14Kemin Internal Document, 14-00015.

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