Improves the physiological performance of the animals

  cows-in-a-pasture Click to enlarge

In order to remain competitive, dairy cattle farmers optimize feed rations to improve the productive capacity of their animals. This is a way of temporarily increasing production, in the event of increased milk demand, taking full advantage of the milk yield during early lactation and maximizing milk production. However, a diet that is too rich in energy can increase the risk of acidosis and cause a drop in performance. Bicar®Z is a natural source of sodium bicarbonate that makes it possible to improve the physiological performance of the animals and ensure safe rations.

Meets physiological needs

For cattle, sheep and goat farmers, Bicar®Z provides a source of sodium and bicarbonate, which are two vital nutrients in the diet of ruminants. Sodium deficiency is indeed likely to lead to a loss in appetite, therefore reducing the performance and general physiological condition of the animal. Insufficient bicarbonate limits the efficiency of rumination and, indirectly, the productive capacity of the livestock. The use of Bicar®Z (sodium bicarbonate from SOLVAY) allows the breeder to respond to the needs of the animal and to ensure safe rations, particularly during early lactation when feed efficiency is paramount. 

Improves the DCAB

  ration in breeder's hands Click to enlarge

Bicar®Z allows the breeder to effectively correct the dietary cation-anion balance (DCAB) by providing sodium, which is a highly alkalizing ion.
For a lactating cow, the DCAB must lie between 240 and 280 mEq/kg DM (dry matter). However, some rations, particularly those rich in rapeseed cake, have a very low DCAB. 

Adding 1% Bicar®Z to the ration provides an extra 118 mEq/kg DM. It is an effective way to maintain the milk's useful matter content, in particular the PC (protein content).

Find out more about the dietary electrolyte balance

Stabilizes ruminal pH

Animals with a high level of production develop intense digestive and metabolic activity which is necessary to meet the increased needs of the body. For this, the ruminants require energy-rich rations. The risk of acidosis is therefore high. This condition can cause a decrease in the animal's performance as well as pathologies such as lameness, laminitis and mastitis. Adding Bicar®Z to the ration allows ruminal pH to be stabilized and a normal metabolism to be restored


Reduces the impact of heat stress

When room temperature exceeds 20°C, the respiratory rate of ruminants increases to allow them to lose body heat more rapidly. The loss of COvia the lungs causes a drop in the body's bicarbonate reserves and therefore decreases its ability to buffer ruminal pH. The increase in perspiration and urinary losses accentuates this phenomenon and leads to a reduction in sodium reserves. If acidosis occurs, the zootechnical performance of the animal is reduced and it is at increased risk of developing pathologies such as laminitis and mastitis.

Field observations carried out in a French department on a herd of 60 cows (Dr Danièle Castellani, 2012) show that heat stress leads to a decrease in ingested DM of 1.4 to 3 kg per day and a reduction in milk production of 1.5 to 3.5 L per day.

To help the herd withstand high temperatures, the farmer must ensure that the cowshed provides suitable conditions (sufficient aeration and ventilation, sufficient places at the feeding-trough, an adequate bedding area and good-quality drinking water). Bicar®Z can also be added directly to the ration in order to compensate for the loss of bicarbonate and sodium. The farmer can thus maintain the herd's level of production.


Ensures safe diet transitions

The use of Bicar®Z ensures safe diet transitions, particularly when putting the animals out to pasture. Indeed, young grass is rich in highly fermentable carbohydrates and contains little cellulose, magnesium and sodium. It is consumed quickly, triggering only a low level of salivation and limited rumination. This encourages the production of volatile fatty acids in the rumen, incurring the risk of sub-acidosis, which is increased by the additional intake of concentrates. A study conducted in Ireland (O'Grady, 2008) showed that 11% of grazing cows suffered from actual acidosis (pH<5.5). A further 42% had a borderline pH (between 5.6 and 5.8), and only 47% were close to normal values (pH>5.8).

Used as a preventive measure when putting the animals out to pasture (added to the ration in the morning and evening), Bicar®Z increases the sodium content of the young grass, without adding chloride or sulfur, which are both acidifying agents. It ensures safe transition by restoring a pH close to 6.4 and by increasing the digestibility of the grass. The breeder in thus able to ensure that milk production is maintained.