Viginia Tech's Rob Rhoads Talks Shares his Advice on How to Prevent Heat StressTue, 20 Aug 2019 17:36:42 CDT
Plan to Prevent Heat Stress
Heat stress does more than reduce feed intake. Virginia Tech animal scientist Rob Rhoads talks about the changes cattle make inside as they respond to a detrimental heat load.
Animal science has studied and gained a better understanding of the direct and indirect effects of heat on cattle.
"I think a decade ago or longer, it really was believed that feed intake was the main driver of reduced performance during heat stress and I think we're starting to understand that there's other things happening as a result of heat stress," Rhoads said. "I think we're more aware now of the metabolic effects."
Watch a short video-clip featuring Rob Rhoads, Virginia Tech animal scientist, shares his thoughts on preventing heat stress in your cattle, by clicking or tapping the PLAYBOX in the window below.
So what happens—metabolically—to heat-stressed cattle?
"They start to change their nutrient partitioning and their fuel selection in terms of fatty acids versus carbohydrates or glucose," he said. "When we think about skeletal muscle, obviously it takes a lot of energy for muscle to grow and for lean tissue accretion. During heat stress, we're seeing changes that prevent the animal from making those changes appropriately using fuel substrates for energy use and protein deposition. Cattle producers can take steps to help reduce the heat load and keep their herd more comfortable: Rhoads, 1:46-2:10: Right now the biggest thing that cattle producers can do to combat heat stress really revolve around infrastructure and management decisions. A key thing is, if possible, trying to provide shade to prevent solar radiation and damaging effects from an elevated heat load associated with that."
Beyond shade, the researcher suggests feeding and working cattle in the coolest parts of the day and providing plenty of cool water in clean tanks and troughs.
"Whenever the water temperature elevates, that impairs, not only the ability of the animal to dissipate heat, but then they also want to drink less," Rhoads said. "If it’s warm, greater than 35 degrees Celsius, that's going to negatively impact their heat load and so all of those things can sum to affect how the animal responds to that heat."
Rule-of-thumb resources like the Temperature Heat Index (or T-H-I) and the Heat Load Index can help awareness of stress thresholds and gauge environmental impacts on animals.
"Traditionally, we've thought that a THI value of 72 is when the animal is going to start to experience heat stress. Recent research has shown that that's actually probably lower, probably about 68. It's simply because we've got more efficient animals, higher producing animals, so they're also producing more metabolic heat as a result."
Source: Certified Angus Beef
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