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Trace Elements

Organic or Inorganic?

Current research is showing that inclusion of inorganic minerals from Copper, Manganese, Zinc and Iron is far from desirable for mineral supplements.

Sulphates, Oxides, Chlorides and Carbonates all have serious negative effects and whilst history has shown some benefits when used sparingly we now know that the variation in Ph through the GIT (Gastro-intestinal Tract) causes some very negative interactions during digestion, and some of the compounds produced are toxic at a cellular level.

We also know that the loading of unused trace elements is also both wasteful and has a negative impact on the environment.

Chelated organic minerals (Trace elements bonded to peptides or amino acids), have been proved to be highly bi-available and can totally replace their inorganic counterparts at lower levels and will often save money.
They significantly reduce negative environmental impact and have been shown to have major advantages in improving, health (mastitis, somatic cell counts, lameness, ante-natal metabolic disease issues) fertility, and neonatal and post-natal heifer growth and performance through first lactation.

It therefore makes sense to focus on TRT (Total Replacement Treatment) of these key trace elements in supplemental formulation.

The fundamental starting point with introducing TRT has to be the dry cow period. There is much compelling evidence to show both better calving and long term benefits by replacing standard formulations with chelated trace zinc, manganese, copper and selenium as the only sources.

£50 per Tonne off

We have decided to run a little campaign from August 1st as a result of this new focus.
Anyone ordering TRT minerals forward on contracts to next spring will get £50 per Tonne off the RRP

There will be a further reductions of:

  • £10 per tonne for 5 tonne drops
  • £20 per tonne for 10 tonne drops
  • Full Loads POA

Heat Stress and Rumen Buffers

The hot weather back in May 2020 and the high relative humidity seen from time to time since then has resulted in increased levels of heat stress.

Dairy cows are homoeothermic animals and need to maintain a constant body temperature of around 38.8°C +/- 0.5°C. They are sensitive to factors which influence their thermal exchange with the environment.
These factors include air temperature, radiant temperature, air velocity and relative humidity. Their internal temperature regulation is also affected by their state of equilibrium in the digestive tract. Acidosis has a major effect on temperature regulation.

A key symptom of acidosis is increased body temperature, increased body temperature is a symptom that for the most part goes un-noticed.
The recent weather temperature and humidity spikes have led to a re-focus on the use of rumen buffers to help regulate heat stress as well as acidosis.
For the most part both heat stress and acidosis are sub-clinical and un-seen but both conditions are serious enough to reduce production and fertility.

Heat stress costs you money.

Heat stress temperatures

Heat stress – the dairy cow

  • Heat-stressed lactating cows have reduced dry matter intake, milk production and pregnancy rates.
  • Heat stress also leads to increased lameness, disease incidence, days open and death rates.
  • Heat-stressed late gestation cows have shorter gestation periods, calves with lower birth weights, reduced milk production and impaired immune function.
  • Heifer calves from heat-stressed cows produce less milk for the first 30 weeks of lactation after freshening.

Heat stress – the calf

    • At environmental temperatures above 25°C, the calf’s body temperature will rise
    • In an attempt to keep cool, calves will : –
      – Breath quicker
      – Drink less milk and eat less feed
      – Drink more water
      – Spend longer standing and less time lying
    • Energy is diverted to maintain core body temperature, making less energy available for growth.
    • Immune system is suppressed which reduces the calf’s ability to fight off disease.

Preventing Heat Stress

Many dairy farmers use many different approaches to help their cows regulate body temperature in hot, humid, and sunny weather.

Shade

Shade can help reduce the solar heat load and remains one of the first recommendations to help lactating cows and dry cows manage their body heat in hot weather.
Well ventilated housing and open sided shelter sheds are good options for providing shade. There are several shade structure options that can be used.
When providing shade, it is important to provide plenty of cover for all of the animals at the same time without crowding. Around 40 square feet per animal is recommended.

Ventilation

Air exchange
Housing ventilation cools cows by providing air flow exchange between inside and outside. Ventilation can be by either natural or mechanical means.
In hot weather, provide as much air flow as possible. The target air movement should be between 60 and 90 air exchanges per hour.

Tunnel ventilation brings air in at one end of a barn and exhausts it out the other.

      • The size of fans and inlets should be correctly calculated and the fans should be well maintained and inlets opened to get the desired air velocity.

Cross ventilation brings air in on the side of the barn and exhausts it out the other side.

      • Cross-vent housing can use a series of baffles to try to keep the air flowing and increase the total flow at cow level.
      • It is important to size fans and inlets correctly. Make sure the fans are well maintained and inlets are open to get the desired air velocity.

Natural ventilation depends mainly on wind in hot weather.

      • Open ridges will allow some hot air to escape out the ridge.
      • Fresh air enters through the open sides of the barn.

Air speed

Increasing the air speed flowing past a cow can help her get rid of heat.
Tunnel ventilation, cross-ventilation with baffles and high-speed mixing fans are ways to increase the air speed past a cow.

Example of air speed impact
Research in America has shown that at a THI of 75 and an airspeed of three miles per hour (mph), a cow producing 45lires per day would be expected to have a respiration rate of around 68 bpm (mild heat stress). Increasing the airspeed past the cow to ten mph would lower her respiration rate to 57 bpm (no heat stress).

Mixing fans should be mounted above the cubicles and feed passages,
Mixing fans need to be mounted high enough to not be a hazard to people, cows or equipment moving underneath the fans.

      • Point high-speed fans downward by 20 degrees so the air blows past the cows.

Cooling with water

Misters and sprinklers help cows get rid of body heat.

      • Misting systems cool the air by evaporating water droplets using heat in the air.
      • Sprinklers wet the cow’s skin, and her body heat is used to evaporate the liquid water on the skin.

Both methods will increase the air’s relative humidity, but if the barn has good ventilation, the humidity levels shouldn’t become excessive.

      • Sprinklers and misters are more effective in drier weather with lower dew-point temperatures.
      • Avoid constant spray, sprinklers need to cycle on and off to allow time for water evaporation.
      • Avoid excessive sprinkling that causes water to run down and wet the udder because this can lead to an increased risk of mastitis.
      • With high-pressure misters, the droplets need to evaporate before they hit the cubicles or bedding.
        • Place misters near inlets to give a better dispersal to the cow waiting areas and feed barrier.
        • Misters are not as effective when ventilation blows the mist out of the barn before the air cools.

Drinking Water

Hydration is incredibly important for a cow to regulate her body temperature, both during times of heat stress and cold stress. Adequate drinking water should be supplied at all times.

      • In hot weather (32-35 degrees C for a high daytime temp), a lactating cow producing 36-45 litres of milk drinks 95-135 litres of water per day.
      • The recommended amount of space is two linear inches