Preventing Heat Stress in Cows With Feed
A feeding solution helps dairy farmers handle the hot months, maintaining healthy herds and profitable milk production.
January 01, 2015
Dairy farmers across the globe are familiar with the challenges of keeping their animals cool in the heat of summer. When the temperature humidity index reaches 68 or higher, cows have difficulty cooling themselves by panting or sweating. Known as “heat stress,” the serious condition affects a cow’s metabolism, digestion, fertility levels and milk production. For one Cargill customer in the United States, the New Jersey summer climate strained his dairy operation: milk production dropped every summer by 15% and profits decreased. In the US alone, experts estimate that heat stress costs the industry nearly US $900 million each year.
In 2013, Cargill’s animal nutrition business began developing a unique feed additive to help manage heat stress. Introduced in two product lines, Internal Cooling Elements (I.C.E.™) and Cooling Pack™, the additive helped cows’ cells stay hydrated and limit increases in overall body temperature.
“Our unique feeding program…helps protect cows from heat stress effects at the cellular level."
— Ercole Zerbini, Director of Global Ruminant Technology, Cargill
Adding these products to their cows’ diets, dairy farmers maintained much healthier and productive herds in the hot months. Research showed faster recovery after periods of high heat and humidity, and improved pregnancy and fertility rates. At the Cargill Innovation Center in The Netherlands, researchers discovered that I.C.E. also helped to prevent ruminal acidosis, an indirect consequence of heat stress that can cause serious health problems.
In just a few years, the feeding solution has gone global. Both I.C.E. and Cooling Pack now have loyal customer bases across the US, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Peru and Russia.
Back at the farm of Cargill’s customer in New Jersey, I.C.E. has transformed the well-being and productivity of the cows during the summer season. The operation now maintains an average daily milk production of 32 kilograms per cow. Cargill continues to innovate to help animal feed customers everywhere experience this same success: healthy herds, quality products and strong, reliable profits.