Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Throughout the world, livestock represents the main food supply. Recently, livestock occupies more and more tropical and subtropical areas, which generates an enormous challenge for farmers. One of the strategies to counteract the negative impact that heat stress can have on animals is to offer them diets rich in minerals, such as potassium and zinc.
This is the conclusion drawn by a specialist from the University of Iowa, Lance Baumgard, during a postgraduate study he conducted at the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Buenos Aires.
To reduce the effects of heat on animals, the key is to reduce the caloric stress during the summer, either through technology (cooling devices or devices to produce more shaded areas for the animals to evade the heat) or the diet.
In particular, Baumgard considered that the management of diet to reduce the effects of heat stress is particularly important in countries affected by drought and global warming.
The researcher recalled that animals change their behavior to tolerate heat stress and that, at the same time, they experience changes in their metabolism. When the environmental temperature is too high, the cattle begin to perspire, which is their natural body’s mechanism to stay cool. But excessive perspiration produces sensible losses of potassium, an element that allows all the living beings to regulate water losses.
Thus, if the heat stress continues, the animals become dehydrated and suffer various organic problems. Therefore, diets rich in potassium allow animals to breathe normally and stay cool in periods of high temperatures.
Zinc is essential for the proper functioning of the digestive system of the animals. Heat stress during summer makes the intestinal tract more permeable to toxic substances and inflammations and other associated disorders can occur. Adding zinc and potassium to the livestock animal’s diet could successfully combat the negative effects of heat stress.
COMMENT: Be aware that adding an excess of zinc, potassium or any other single mineral or trace mineral can have deleterious effects on the animals’ health. Most minerals have antagonistic or synergistic inter-relationship with other minerals. These effects must be adjusted for. The best way to do this is to provide a broad array of minerals in a cafeteria style mineral feeding program. For more information, see our Free Choice Mineral kits available here.
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