The weather outside? It’s unpredictable. For most of December, average temperatures were higher than normal in most of the contiguous U.S., generating everything from record-breaking warmth to extreme weather events. In January, meteorologists anticipate a colder and wetter winter in the heartland, and most if not all of Texas is forecasted to have warmer than average temperatures because of a developing La Niña. For cattle farmers, the teeter-tottering of weather patterns can result in extra stress upon herds, jeopardizing the health and productivity of each animal.
Producers are struggling not only with how to keep cattle warm in winter, but how to maintain their health during routine fluctuations year-round. Here is what research has to say about using seaweed as a feed supplement to increase the resilience of the metabolism and production of your cattle, no matter the weather conditions.
Seaweed Helps Regulate Metabolism
The ordinary biological functions of cattle falter under extreme weather conditions. When temperatures spike, cattle reduce their feed intake due to the already higher levels of heat they produce as a result of rumen fermentation, and dairy cattle specifically struggle to maintain their milk yields. During extreme cold weather, growth rates and feed conversion efficiency of cattle dip across the board as their bodies allocate more energy to resist the strain of frigid days.
In both cases, cattle depend on additional feed supplements to stimulate their metabolism during extreme weather. The heat that ruminants produce during fermentation can be reduced when cattle are receiving the maximum safe amount of fats in their diet as well as receiving dietary fiber like oligosaccharides found in Ascophyllum nodosum – especially if you are feeding them high-quality forage.
Studies of seaweed have found that when dairy cows are dealing with heat stress, the right amount of seaweed can help them to regulate their body temperatures and maintain milk production in spite of the heat. Even when cattle are naturally eating less food, they still have the energy reserves they need to remain productive.
Though there are fewer studies about the impact of seaweed on cattle dealing with cold stress, seaweed is known to increase the metabolic rate of cattle. Cattle often require boosted rations during colder or wetter weather to maintain the same performance, which elevates your costs without always elevating performance. Using seaweed as a feed supplement provides gut microbes with essential prebiotics, allowing them to convert more of the existing nutrients obtained from forage into energy.
In short, seaweed feed supplements like our Acadian Kelp™ products help to stabilize cattle health and wellbeing, controlling costs while achieving the same level of performance and resilience under normal weather conditions.
Want to learn how to keep cattle warm in winter and handle extreme temperatures shifts with seaweed feed? Reach out to members of the Acadian Kelp™ team for more information.