I know most of you are not thinking about heat stress this time of year but over the summer we conducted a number of trials and product development work on heat stress. We also reached out to a number of our customers that helped us evaluate various formulas and we can’t express how grateful we are for your help and input.
In the next few weeks we are will be adding a product, TrueCool, that we developed based on that work. We are fine tuning the formulation and working through labelling now. TrueCool will be ready for use well before we deal with hot weather.
What happens in heat stress?
If we were going to develop a product to help animals nutritionally during times of heat stress it was important to understand what is going on inside the animal when they experience heat stress.
A term you’ll hear a lot these days when people talk about heat stress is “leaky gut.” If you think about the digestive tract as a tube and everything inside the tube is still outside the body. The tube is full of pathogens, toxins, enzymes, etc. So to boil it down the function of the digestive tract is to be a barrier that keeps all the bad stuff on the inside the tube (outside the body) while at the same time absorbing the nutrients that are needed for growth, performance, and maintenance.
You might be thinking what on earth does the gut have to do with heat stress? Good Question!
When an animal experiences heat stress two things happen. First they move blood flow to the skin in an attempt to cool. That is why your skin gets flushed in the heat. To move blood to the skin, which is the biggest organ in the body, it has to flow away from the gut and out to the periphery. In addition, heat stress results in reduced appetite. That lower blood flow in the gut results in compromised intestinal integrity aka “leaky gut.” Of the things that can escape a leaky gut and enter the body is lipopolysaccharide (LPS.) LPS is one of the nastiest most toxic substances in nature. LPS causes inflammation, liver damage, reduced appetite, fever, muscle loss and even death.
So when we decided to attack the problem we knew it would take a multipronged approach that would simultaneously improves gut integrity and mitigate the damage from systemic LPS.
We started with a distinct advantage, the ingredients in our patent pending product, PreVent has been shown in multiple research trials at major Universities to mitigate the effects of LPS on the immune system in multiple species of animals. In addition, the results our customers have experienced using PreVent during times of heat stress speak for themselves. That is also the reason that we’ve had customers report over and over that the pigs they fed TrueGlo outperform. But we were convinced that during times of heat stress we could do even better.
The trick to this was making sure we had the optimal levels of each of the ingredients just right. There were a lot of moving parts and the process was nothing if not time consuming. Then since we are in northern Iowa and had a relatively cool summer we had to wait for weather that adequately stressed livestock so we could conduct a trial. One of our customers in Texas kept telling us all we had to do was move south. But we stayed put and waited for the forecast to say the heat index was going to be 100+. Eventually we got the dose titrated and completed trials to give us confidence in the data.
This chart summarizes the average daily gain data we collected. The blue bars are the weights collected during the time of the heat stress (8 days) and the orange bars are the same data from the prior 8 days of cooler weather. The day we weighed pigs into the trial the heat index was in the 80s and it climbed to more than 120 degrees for the next five days and then fell into the lower 100s for the last three days of the trial.
The bottom line is that both the TrueGlo and TrueCool pigs outperformed the control group about equally during the cool time period but during the heat stress time period the combination of ingredients in TrueCool outperformed TrueGlo.
We also collected mortality data. We lost a total of 4 head during the trial. Three of the four were in the control group and the fourth was in the TrueGlo group. None of the pigs in the TrueCool group died. We also treated 20 pigs during the trial period 11 in the control group 4 in the TrueGlo group and 5 in the TrueCool group.
As we mentioned above we let a number of customers evaluate TrueCool formulations on their own pigs this summer. A couple days ago (November 2016) one of those customers asked me to send them some more. Naturally I asked why and he said that TrueCool was really helping a couple pigs for one of his customers after they got sick and were well behind. We sure plan to keep track of their progress and will keep you posted.