Beating the heat

11-04-2019 | |
Beating the heat. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
Beating the heat. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

There’s nothing as unpredictable as the weather…! Seasonal temperature rises, alongside the challenges of global warming and not forgetting that many livestock producers operate in consistently tropical climates, is creating a multifaceted problem with no single solution.

This unwarranted, and sometimes relentless heat causes a physiological response known as heat stress. Although, livestock animals possess several adaptive mechanisms to cope with heat stress challenges, these mechanisms only help animals survive the stress by compromising the productive responses. This not only affects metabolic processes but can also cause a compromised immune system, loss in reproductive efficiency and have a negative influence on milk/meat production.

Obviously, nobody has a magic wand to be able to change the weather, but solutions can be found which minimise the damage to the welfare of animals and the economics of the producer. In this special edition, several nutritional solutions are examined which offer feed strategies to ensure optimum feed intake; for example, supplements such as plant extracts, live yeast, natural betaine or antioxidants. Management and housing solutions are also explored, alongside more innovative ways, such as automated phenotyping technologies to predict heat stress. With climate change forcing a geographical shift in production areas and growing livestock markets in temperate countries, solutions to beat the heat are both timely and essential.

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