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Beat The Heat


Kenzie Smith, Resale Product Advisor, Genex

Summer will be rolling around quickly, and while the warm weather may be exciting for us, your cattle probably have a different opinion. hot summer temperatures can bring heat stress to cattle, which can negatively affect your bottom line. Heat stress accounts for an annual economic loss of $897 million within the U.S. dairy industry, a loss that almost amounts to $100 per cow per year. If you currently do not have any heat abatement system such as fans, misters or even shades, the loss per cow can jump to $167 per year.1

According to DVM Lance Baumgard of Iowa State University, heat stress is defined as "when the environment temperature nears the body temperature and the animal's cooling mechanism are impaired."2 Heat stress can have major disruptions on reproduction, milk production, feed intake and even send the digestive system into chaos.

During periods of heat stress, cattle respond by reducing their activity levels. All of these are behavioral changes cattle undergo in order to reduce the heat they are producing. While cattle's desire for water will typically increase, during severe times of heat stress their water intake will actually decrease, once again, due to lack of activity and energy.

As cattle change their behavior to cope with heat stress, many physiological effects also take place. when cattle start to sweat they lose potassium like humans lose sodium. Cattle sweating also leads to the dehydration of cells and tissues because they cannot effectively transport the fluids needed. With the inability to sweat enough to cool off, cattle turn to panting and drooling. Increased respiration rates due to panting quickly become a large problem. While panting and drooling, cattle lose a good deal of bicarbonate (HCO3) and phosphate buffers, which can send those cattle into rumen acidosis. Producers will also see an increase in the animal's body temperature.

One of the most negative physiological changes heat stressed cattle undergo is the alteration of blood flow. Blood flow usually used for milk production and digestion is rerouted to the animal's exterior and instead used to help cool the animal, causing a decrease in milk production and digestion.2

To combat heat stress and the related behavioral and physiological changes cattle endure, Genex has developed RumiLifeTM Electrolyte MTM, a nutritional supplement.

RumiLife Electrolyte M is a ready-to-use oral electrolyte specifically formulated for mature cattle. The product helps maintain normal hydration, electrolyte balance and dry matter intake during periods of stress. Designed to drive water intake, the highly palatable, potassium-packed electrolyte will help cattle stay on track to beat the heat.

Additionally, RumiLife Electrolyte M contains dextrose, sucrose and lactose for energy. It also contains glycine, a key amino acid vital for electrolyte absorption, as it drives potassium and sodium back into the cells.

RumiLife Electroltye M is an extremely versatile product. It can be added to a drench for sick, fresh and dehydrated cows, added into a total mixed ration (TMR), top dressed onto feed or even added directly to water tanks during times of heat stress and before/after transport.

1St-Pierre, N.R., Cobanov, B., & Schnitkey, G. (2003). Economic Loss from Heat Stress by U.S. Livestock Industries. Journal of Dairy Science, 86, (E Suppl.): E-52-E77.

2Baumgard, L. (Presenter). (n.d.). Heat Stress and Rumen Acidosis: Understanding What Happens During Heat Stress