When a dairy cow is hit with heat stress, its milk production drops within 48 hours and its fertility is adversely affected as well. Cows experience heat stress once the temperature humidity index is over 68°F.
Cargill developed a feed additive that contains an osmolyte compound to help rehydrate the cow’s cells. The Cooling Pack product moderates the cow’s body temperature to help it keep producing milk and maintain reproductive performance.
Heat stress on dairy cows is not new, but the problem is increasing, Cargill’s Global Ruminant R&D Director Guillermo Schroeder told DairyReporter.
“The cows today are different than the cows 10 to 20 years ago,” Schroeder said. “Every year, the cow is more productive than the year before, which is making them susceptible to heat stress.”
When a cow is under heat stress, it loses a lot of water, causing dehydration. The osmolyte compound found in the Cooling Pack feeding additive helps dissipate the cow’s body heat to maintain a lower body temperature.
Cooling Pack is distributed worldwide and customized to each dairy farmer depending on the specific needs of his or her herd.
Guillermo recommends using the product two to three weeks before the farmer anticipates the onset of heat stress for their dairy cows.
Prioritizing dairy cow hydration
Schroeder also acknowledges that while the feed additive plays a major role in relieving heat stress, other factors are essential to improving the cows overall health during warmer months.
Cows can drink twice as much water during the summertime, Schroeder said. This makes hydration a top priority for the dairy farmer.
“We also pay a lot of attention to water quality, and do the cows have enough space to access the water,” Schroeder said.
Trial & success
An on-farm trial in Indiana found that cows fed Cooling Pack from July 2 through August 29, 2013 maintained milk production at a higher level compared to the control group, during the hottest months of the summer.
According to study conducted by Cargill, milk production for dairy cows fed the Cooling Pack did not decline as much as for cows not fed the feed additive. Milk production recovery was faster for cows fed the Cooling Pack, particularly after the most extreme episode of heat in mid-July, where temperatures reached above 80°F.
Embryo production was also found to be better in cows fed the Cooling Pack feed additive with osmolyte. A study done in Brazil found that cows produced 13% more embryos, which resulted in more pregnancies when Cooling Pack was fed.
Cow's well being comes first
During low milk prices periods, it is very important that a cows well-being and future productivity is not compromised as it would have long term consequences on a farms productivity, efficiency and profitability.
Cargill's Cool Pack helps alleviate milk production losses that normally occur during heat stress periods, and assists with improving the reproductive performance of the cow.
"Those are all important aspects that will affect the overall efficiency of milk production on a farm and will help to cope with current low milk prices," Schroeder said.