Cold Diets: Mitigating Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle

27 Jan 2024

Cold Diets: Mitigating Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle

Researchers from INTA Rafaela suggest utilizing cold diets which are rich in lipid energy and crucial minerals like sodium and potassium to mitigate heat stress in cattle during summer months.

In the approaching summer months for the southern hemisphere, global temperatures are expected to rise, with much of Latin America anticipating heatwaves during the initial months of 2024 due to the El Niño phenomenon.

As a result, the industry is gearing up to uphold and enhance animal welfare, recognizing the potential for various livestock species to experience heat stress—a worrisome issue that jeopardizes their health, productivity, and overall performance.

Generally, it’s advisable for all types of livestock to have access to a steady supply of clean and fresh water, along with proper ventilation systems and increased availability of shade.

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For dairy cattle, INTA Rafaela researchers advise adopting cold diets, where the incorporation of lipid energy emerges as a crucial factor, owing to “its high energy density and lack of heat production through fermentation.”

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In this regard, Eloy Salado (INTA Rafaela, animal nutrition) asserts that this supplementation results in “energy and glucose conservation” to boost milk production. He explains that lipids hinder the “de novo synthesis of milk fat in the mammary gland,” thereby eliminating heat production through biosynthesis.

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“Lipids should account for up to 16% of the total estimated ME requirement of the cow (…) It is recommended that 50% of these lipids be protected (bypass), while the remaining amount can be added as free lipids in the form of free oils, oilseed cakes, and oil-rich grains such as sunflower, cotton, soybean, and flax.”

 

Likewise, it is advised to supplement sodium and potassium in the rations, along with opting for moist forages to contribute to fiber intake. “It is advisable to utilize moist forages like silage instead of hay to improve ration palatability,” INTA suggests in its research-related informational note. “Additionally, including moist by-products such as brewery waste, citrus pulp, or molasses is recommended.”

You may also like to read: “Ground Flaxseed supplementation in Dairy Cow diets”

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