With warmer temperatures on the horizon, heat stress is almost inevitable, but some management practices can be implemented to help animals better cope with a hot spell.
Heat stress occurs when the animal’s ability to self-regulate and lower core body temperature is overwhelmed and the animal’s performance and/or health is compromised.
Signs include bunching in the shade, salivating excessively, foaming around the mouth, panting, trembling, or lack of coordination.
The effects of heat stress are reduced feed intake and weight gain, poor breeding efficiency, lower milk production, increased disease susceptibility, and death in severe cases.
According to BioZyme experts, being proactive is the best approach. Having a solid management plan in place to combat heat stress could play a crucial role in an operation’s ability to maintain animal performance during periods of increased heat. Some management options include:
- Shade: Temperature can be lowered by providing areas where animals can get out of direct sunlight.
- Improved ventilation: Providing fans or allowing for adequate air movement helps alleviate heat stress.
- Clean, cool drinking water: Water is necessary to keep the animal’s body temperature within normal limits. Providing cool water will also help cool the animal’s core.
- Wetting: Gradually wetting an animal with cool water from sprinklers or hoses is an effective way to cool an animal suffering from heat stress. Wetting the ground can also cool the area where animals lay and reduce the effects of heat stress.
- Timing of feeding: By moving the animal’s feeding time to late afternoon or evening will allow rumen fermentation (which creates heat) to take place during cooler temperatures.
To help its customers better manage heat stress within their herds, BioZyme has developed two products that specifically address heat abatement; VitaFerm HEAT and Sure Champ Climate Control Paste. These products contain an extract that helps livestock handle the heat by lowering core body temperature in a safe, fast, and natural way.