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June is Dairy Month - BOOM! It's Starting to Get Hot!

Use Buffer-Lyx® to maintain milk production all summer!

Last week, Dan Dhuyvetter wrote a blog on summer conditions, drought and he started the title with the exclamation “Wham!”.  When it comes to summer heat and humidity, “Boom!” is a fitting exclamation for the way heat and humidity can negatively impact dair­­y cattle.  Dairy cattle do not like heat and humidity and production is impacted with temperatures over 72 degrees.  When temperatures are in the 80’s you can visibly see how uncomfortable the cows are with increased panting and reduced eating activity.   Milk production can drop by 20-30% during heat stress and only 50% of that production drop can be attributed to reduced dry matter intake.  The other 50% of production loss is due to changes in rumen function and energy metabolism.  Heat stress increases the risk of Sub Acute Ruminal Acidosis (SARA) which is extended periods of rumen pH below 5.8.  CRYSTALYX® Buffer-Lyx® provides a concentrated source of buffers and stimulates saliva production by the licking action.  Using Buffer-Lyx® all summer can help maintain rumen health and milk production during heat stress.

Heat Stress Increases The Risk of SARA

Optimal rumen pH for maintaining animal health and production is in the range of 6.0 to 6.8.  SARA is defined as the transient periods of time when the rumen pH is below pH 5.8 and severe SARA is pH below 5.5.  At rumen pH below 5.8, fiber digestibility is reduced and below 5.5 absorptive capacity of ruminal epithelium is decreased.   After a cow consumes a meal, the pH will decline with the digestion of fermentable carbohydrate in the rumen.  Under normal conditions, the pH will recover quickly as the cow ruminates.  During heat stress the normal eating and rumination pattern of the cow is dramatically altered.

Rumination and the recirculation of saliva is the primary means of providing buffers to the rumen.  Saliva contains sodium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate, which are strong buffering agents.  Under normal conditions the buffering capacity of saliva can be equivalent to nearly 7 lbs. of sodium bicarbonate.   Cows under heat stress respond by open mouth breathing, reduced rumination, cud chewing and eating times with increased time panting and more breaths per minute.  These factors combine to significantly decrease the natural buffering capacity of saliva production during heat stress.  It is not possible to add enough buffer the TMR to compensate for this lost buffering capacity.   

SARA:  Once is One Time Too Many

Each SARA Event is More Damaging:  Explaining the Summer Milk Crash

Cows do not completely recover from a single SARA event.  Often, we cannot see the impact of one SARA event at the herd level.  However, cows are at an increased risk of a more severe drop in rumen pH and performance with each subsequent SARA event.  Using Buffer-Lyx® helps prevent the first and each following SARA event. 

Research has shown that repeated SARA events will destroy rumen function.  Each subsequent SARA event was more damaging.  The challenge used in this research would be comparable to repeated heat stress events or major TMR mixing errors.  The milk crashes we often observe in late August actually is due to reduced rumen function that may have started months prior.   Use Buffer-Lyx® today to maintain milk production all summer.

Buffer-Lyx® is a patented, self-fed supplement delivering buffers and alkalinizing agents.  Buffer-Lyx® is very palatable and readily consumed independent of the TMR.  Research and field trials have documented milk production responses of 4 to 9 lbs. more milk, depending on the severity of the SARA risk.

June is Dairy Month and the beginning of summer, which is a busy time on dairy farms.  As the temperature increase, be aware of the risk of SARA for your cows.  CRYSTALYX® offers a variety of products that are an easy and convenient means to provide supplemental nutrients.  Buffer-Lyx® is specifically beneficial during times of heat stress and reduces the SARA risk with the licking action and delivery of buffering agents.  

 

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