Help Cattle Beat the Heat with These Tips

Kansas is seeing hotter temperatures this week—in the upper 90's. But the issue isn't just in Kansas. Kansas State beef veterinarian A.J. Tarpoff explains some of the ways producers can help cattle be less stressed in high heat conditions.

“Heat stress on our cattle is a is a critically important aspect of our production that we have to control. Heat stress accounts for about $370 million worth of losses to our beef cattle industry every year, just due to the decreases in performance, decreases in fertility and the potential of mortality,” Tarpoff says.

It’s critically important to have a plan in place and to plan ahead to make sure when there are heat stress events that there’s a readily made plan to put into action.

Here are Tarpoff’s top tips to help cattle beat the heat.

Make plenty of water available. Water consumption is critical during the summer months. “Once the temperature rises to about 90 degrees and during the hot summer, animals consume water at five times their dry matter intake defeat. So, it’s critically important that that we have a good quality and quantity water source that's available to them at all times,” he says.

Utilize shade. When utilizing sunshades, the animals should have about 20 square feet per head of shade access at any given time of the day.

Modify the pen surface. If you don't have the opportunity to have sunshade, you can modify the pen surface. “Keep in mind that just a dirt floor during the hot summer months due to the solar radiation, it can get up to about 140 degrees,” Tarpoff explains. “Things like dry bedding, whether it's corn stalks or wheat stubble that that's been bailed, or we can put out some straw and we can actually drop the surface temperature of that pen floor by about 25 degrees.”

Maximize nighttime cooling. Cattle are a robust species he says. They accumulate heat during the day, and they dissipate it during the nighttime cooling hours. Anything that can be done to maximize the nighttime cooling really helps the animals in the long run. “It takes about six hours of nighttime cooling to be able to dissipate the cumulative heat load that they picked up during the day,” he says.


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