Heat stress is more than a seasonal nuisance that’s detrimental to cow comfort. As temperatures rise above 80 degrees, along with high humidity, dairy cows can experience heat stress, leading to lower milk production, increased metabolic disorders, reduced reproductive performance and impaired immune function — costing the U.S. dairy industry an estimated $1.5 billion annually.
While they can’t control the weather, producers do have tools available to help them stay a step ahead of heat stress. Studies conducted by the University of Arizona and the University of Florida have shown that by feeding OmniGen™ nutritional specialty product to dairy cows prior to and during exposure to heat stress, immune competency was improved and dry matter intake and milk yields were maintained. Both of these studies, says Dr. Jim Chapman, Senior Research Leader, Phibro Animal Health Corporation, demonstrate the importance of heat stress abatement strategies and the role OmniGen can have as part of those strategies.
University of Arizona Studies OmniGen’s Impact on Respiration Rate, Body Temperature, DMI
Researchers at the University of Arizona tested the effectiveness of OmniGen nutritional specialty product in mitigating the effects of heat stress in lactating cows by measuring the commonly observed signs of a cow experiencing heat stress, including respiration rate, body temperature and dry matter intake. Studying cows housed in environmentally controlled rooms, the researchers found cows fed OmniGen were less susceptible to the effects of heat stress. Results showed that cows fed OmniGen:
- Had lower respiration rates than control cows during the heat stress conditions, taking 9.7% fewer breaths per minute.
- Maintained a 0.4% lower body temperature during the early phase of heat stress exposure and a 1.07% lower body temperature after prolonged exposure compared to controls.
- Maintained dry matter intake during heat stress exposure and consumed 9.2% more dry matter daily than controls.
- Demonstrated improved immune competency, which helped mitigate the detrimental effects of heat stress and resulted in improved milk production and overall health.
University of Florida Evaluates OmniGen Feeding to Heat-Stressed Dry Cows
The impact of heat stress extends beyond its impact on lactating cows and can have profound adverse effects on dry cows and their potential to make milk in their next lactation.
To study this effect, the University of Florida fed OmniGen nutritional specialty product to late lactation cows prior to dry off and during the dry period while exposed to heat stress. The study then measured subsequent milk yields. Feeding OmniGen to heat-stressed dry cows resulted in lower respiration rates and body temperatures than the heat-stressed non-OmniGen-fed controls. Compared to non-heat-stressed controls, the OmniGen-fed heat-stressed cows produced the same amounts of milk and had similar dry matter intakes.
Chapman recommends that producers begin feeding OmniGen 45-60 days prior to exposure to heat stress, and this applies to not only cows already in lactation but also dry cows.
“Adding OmniGen nutritional specialty product to rations beginning two months in advance ensures the immune system has time to become more responsive, providing cows with maximum immune competency before heat stress exposure or other types of stressors, which can negatively affect cow health and productivity,” says Chapman.
OmniGen products combine selectively sourced, all-natural ingredients produced using Phibro’s formulation expertise, unique processing technologies and rigorous Dynamic Quality Assurance® program. Each of the research studies were conducted using OmniGen-AF®. For additional information, visit pahc.com/omnigen or call your Phibro Dairy Technical Services Manager.
About Phibro Animal Health Corporation
Phibro Animal Health Corporation is a diversified global developer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of animal health and mineral nutrition products for livestock, helping veterinarians and farmers produce healthy, affordable food while using fewer natural resources. For more information, visit www.pahc.com.