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Heat Stress in livestock and its negative impact

Published: June 22, 2023
By: Fernando Pérez, Veterinary, Liptosa
Heat stress is a huge problem in farm animals, as their welfare and performance can be negatively affected by extreme environmental conditions. When animals are exposed to very high or low temperatures outside their comfort range, they might experience heat stress. This can bring about various unfavorable consequences, such as decreased food intake, reduced zootechnical performance, alterations in the immune system, and increased susceptibility to diseases.
Mechanisms through which animals cope with this situation:
Animals have physiological and behavioral mechanisms to face extreme heat conditions and maintain their homeostasis. Some strategies that these animals implement include:
  • Physiological thermoregulation: livestock animals can regulate their internal temperature through sweating, increasing respiratory rate, increasing peripheral blood flow, and changing their own metabolism.
  • Shade-seeking behavior: they seek shaded areas or shelters to protect themselves from direct sunlight radiation.
  • Water-seeking behavior: increasing their water intake to stay hydrated and compensate for fluid loss due to sweating and respiration.
  • Increased ventilation: they can increase respiratory rate or seek areas with a higher air circulation to dissipate body heat.
Nutritional support as an additional tool 
Nutrition plays a fundamental role in this regard, and certain dietary ingredients may be beneficial:
  • ANTIOXIDANTS: such as vitamin E, selenium, and polyphenols, are closely related to a reduction of the negative effects of oxidative stress.
  • ELECTROLYTES: such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, are essential for maintaining water balance in the body, especially during periods of high temperatures.
  • OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: present in sources like fish oil, they may have anti-inflammatory properties and improve the response to heat stress.
  • VITAMINS: while vitamins are not a sole solution for controlling this situation, they might play an important role in supporting the immune system and reducing the adverse effects of high temperatures:
    • Vitamin C: already known for its antioxidant capacity and its contribution to immune function. It can act as a reducer of oxidative damage and improver of immune response (Carr AC, et al. 2017).
    • Vitamin E: is an important antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress and improve cellular health as well. Additionally, it may play a role in improving reproductive function and semen quality in heat-stressed males (Pinelli-Saavedra A. 2003).
    • B-vitamin complex: including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and biotin (B7), are essential for energy metabolism and proper nervous system functioning. These vitamins can help maintain health and optimal performance in animals under the effects of these circumstances (Ford TC, et al. 2018).
    • Vitamin D: involved in calcium and phosphorus absorption, it is essential for bone and muscle function. Vitamin D deficiency could worsen the effects of heat stress (Khazai N, et al. 2008).
Heatstressin livestock andits negativeimpact


The importance of phytogenics
The use of certain plants can be beneficial in reducing heat stress, either through consumption or by incorporating them into the animals' environment:
  • Mint (Mentha spp.): known for its refreshing properties, can help alleviate high temperature sensation. Mint has been shown to improve food digestibility, increase water consumption, and reduce body temperature in farm animals (Mahendran G, et al. 2020).
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus): cineol is the main active component; it stops the physiological release of certain molecules that cause inflammatory reactions, preventing mucus production and secretion, and exerts anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions (Dhakad, A. K., et al. 2018).
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Thyme extract has been shown to improve immune response and reduce oxidative stress in animals subjected to heat stress (Dauqan, E. et al. 2017).
LIPTOSA solutions to deal with heat stress
At LIPTOSA, we have different approaches to help alleviate the effects of the effects of this threatening situation, always seeking comprehensive supplementation that supports the health and well-being of animals.
On the one hand, our range of multivitamins contributes to maintaining the necessary levels of vitamins and trace elements to face the daily challenges to which our animals are exposed. Some examples include:
  • Liptoaminovit hepatoprotector
  • Liptovit E + Se
  • AD3EK
  • Liptovit multiadivit
It is also important to maintain proper hydration and electrolyte levels to help reduce the negative effects of this kind of stress. For this purpose, LIPTOSA provides the HIDRALIP range, which, thanks to its components (sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, glucose, vitamins, etc.), contributes to keeping the animals in an optimal state to perform their functions properly.
Finally, at LIPTOSA, we give special importance to the botanical compounds in our products, which provide polyphenols and bioactive compounds found in various plants. These compounds have been the subject of numerous studies due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A clear example is Hygen Pro RESPIR FRESH; the synergies of its botanical ingredients such as mint, eucalyptus, and thyme, along with vitamins and a source of salicylates, can be helpful in providing a sense of well-being and thus contribute to allowing our animals to cope with high-temperature stress in optimal conditions.
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Fernando Pérez García
Influencers who recommended :
David Revilla, Carlos López Tomé
13 de octubre de 2023
Dear Fernando,

Thank you for this accurate elements. Yes Indeed heat factor can lead to disastrous results.
As in our hot and dry tropical countries, it is a dynamic challenge which requires husbandry skills like those in the aforementioned article
Do essential oils play the same role in preventing and alleviating heat stress?

Eduardo Espinoza
4 de octubre de 2023

In our tropical climates, it is very important to choose the breed and the purpose of the farm before undertaking the production of meat, milk or both. Rather than trying to moderate the effect of the climate.

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