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Announcer: Welcome to Block Talk, brought to you by Crystalyx Brand Supplements, an easy way to provide self-fed protein, trace minerals and vitamins in a low-moisture block supplement, formulated for all types of feeding situations, from low-quality forages to fly control and everything in between. It all adds up to results by the barrel.
Announcer: I'm Tom Martin. Ridley Block Operations account manager Brayden Hawkins is back with us to talk about keeping cattle safe and healthy in the summer heat season. Welcome back, Brayden.
Brayden: Hey, Tom. Appreciate you having me back.
Announcer: This time of year, heat stress in cattle gets a lot of attention because of the detrimental effects it can have on cattle health and performance and, in return, the profitability of producers. What is heat stress, and what are some of the ways that heat stress can put a strain on both your cattle and your bottom line?
Brayden: Sure, Tom. Well, I think, to understand what heat stress is, it's important to understand the process called thermoregulation. One of our nutritionists, Jill Peine, has written quite a few articles on it. So, I'll just kind of give a brief 30,000-foot overview on what thermal regulation is. Essentially, it's just a process that cattle go through to try to regulate their core body temperature. They're shooting for around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. During the wintertime, you know that the heat that they produce through a number of different bodily functions is used to raise their core body temperature. In the summertime, in the hotter months, they try to dissipate that heat to lower their core body temperature. So, when cattle aren't able to dissipate enough heat to lower their core body temperature to around 101 degrees Fahrenheit, that's when heat stress occurs.
Announcer: Well, some parts of the country are obviously hotter than others, but can all regions of the U.S. and North America be impacted by heat stress?
Brayden: Absolutely. Heat stress can be seen in cattle in temperatures as low as 80 degrees Fahrenheit, especially when humidity is playing a part of the overall ambient temperature. You typically think the farther north you go, the cooler it gets. But also, the farther north you go, the more prominent black-hided cattle seem to be. There's been plenty of studies showing that black-hided cattle have a core body temperature that's about two degrees warmer than some of their lighter-hided counterparts. Something else to keep in mind (is that) there's plenty of humidity up north as well. I remember the first time I went to Iowa in the summertime; it blew me away just how humid it was up there. Even though the outside temperature might not be as great as it is down south, even up north, where it's a little cooler, there's still plenty of concern for heat stress.
Announcer: Well, I have a two-part question for you here. First, what are some of the clinical signs of heat stress? And then also, what can cattle producers do to minimize the implications of heat stress?
Brayden: The main observable signs of heat stress — and certainly the most prominent is excessive panting. The main way that cattle actually dissipate heat is through respiration. They don't sweat near as much as other species. The way they get rid of a lot of that excess heat is respiration. So, if you're looking and you see your cows panting pretty hard, that's a pretty good indication that they're probably overheating a little bit.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is just continually those cattle moving into different-shaded areas, if there are some, and then just kind of camping out in standing water sources, like ponds, creeks, things along those lines. One note I'd like to add there is that for those cattle that are just constantly standing in water, it will soften up their hooves a little bit and increases the incidence of lameness as well.
Those are some of the observable signs. There's plenty going on in the cow as well that are causing some issues. Actually, just to put some numbers to it, Tom, there's a neat number out there — and I shouldn't say neat, but there's a number that says that heat stress can cost the beef business about $350 million annually. Now, a lot of that is concentrated in the feedlot sector of the beef complex. But cow-calf operators still should be very aware of the fact that the heat stress can do things such as reduced conception rates, lower milk yields, lower semen quality in bulls (and can) reduce the amount of time bulls spend breeding cows. And then, obviously, our cheapest input is typically summer grazing. And if your cattle aren't out grazing, you're lowering your performance in the conversions of those calves and cows that are out on grass.
Announcer: Crystalyx has recently developed a new product called Blueprint Shade to help cattlemen and -women deliver a new heat abatement technology in conjunction with a groundbreaking Blueprint Targeted Nutrition mineral program. Can you explain how it works and what makes it so unique?
Related: Get out of the heat and into Shade
Brayden: We are awfully excited about this new Blueprint Shade product, not only from a nutritional and heat abatement standpoint, but I think it's got a pretty cool name, too. But back to the nutrition, the heat abatement component comes from an ingredient called capsicum, which is actually a naturally occurring essential oil derived from the chili pepper. Capsicum is considered a vasodilator, which means it helps relax tiny blood vessels throughout different veins and arteries that were primarily wanting to get more blood to the skin and the gut. So, it could potentially do things like help stimulate feed and water intakes, which help keep the cattle in a positive energy balance, which is critical to do during heat stress events.
The fact that we're able to tag-team that capsicum with our Blueprint Targeted Nutrition — which actually, by itself, is providing, on average, a 2.7% increase in conception rates, an upwards (of) 24-pound increase in weaning weights and actually decreasing mortality in calves by 2.7% — really has us just fired up about this new product. I think one other note to make on this product, Tom, is that the Blueprint Shade is a stand-alone mineral program. The mineral nutrition backing the Blueprint Shade is actually the same as our very popular Blueprint 6% Phos Mineral. It just adds the shade component or the capsicum for the summertime months when that is really, really needed.
Announcer: You mentioned the benefits of adding capsicum to the Blueprint Shade product. Are there any other feed additives that can be delivered with Blueprint Shade?
Brayden: The big one, in my opinion, is the ClariFly active ingredient. Another thing to keep in mind during the hotter summer months is that that's typically when the fly population on our cattle is the most severe. There's been plenty of podcasts, I believe, Tom, that talk about the economic implications of an uncontrolled fly population or a severe fly population. But just to throw another number out there, I believe it's about a billion dollars alone that the horn fly causes in the loss performance in the beef business. So, the fact that we're able to add ClariFly to this particular formula, I think, is awfully important.
We also have a formula with Garlium in it, which is garlic extract. Garlium is shown to be a natural insect repellent. It actually helps prevent the flies or ticks or the other pests from maybe congregating on cattle as much as they typically would. So, (those are) two neat additives there that certainly add some additional economic benefit to an already pretty stacked-up mineral supplement.
Announcer: Well, where can cattle producers go to get more information about Blueprint Shade?
Brayden: I'd always start with your local Crystalyx and Blueprint dealers. They are a wealth of knowledge and can certainly help you understand what products are right for you and provide some additional information on the Blueprint Shade product. We also have our websites, blueprintanimalnutrition.com and crystalyx.com. Also, don't be afraid to reach out to your Crystalyx rep or anybody else that may be able to help from our organization.
Announcer: All right, that's Brayden Hawkins, account manager for Ridley Block Operations. Thank you, Brayden.
Brayden: Thank you, Tom.
Announcer: Thank you for joining us for the Block Talk podcast. Learn more about all that Crystalyx has to offer by going to www.crystalyx.com. It all adds up to results by the barrel.