Ames, IA – High temperatures, high humidity, solar radiation, and low-speed winds create the perfect environment for heat stress in cattle. Based on the forecast outlook for this afternoon and Tuesday, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is encouraging the state’s cattle producers to be prepared to make some changes that can make cattle more comfortable, especially in the southwest corner today, and the whole state on Tuesday.
“It’s best that producers plan ahead so they can take quick action if those four factors put parts of Iowa in a high risk zone,” says Matt Deppe, the CEO for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “Compared to other animals, cattle rely on respiration more than sweating to cool down. Wind and cool nights can help, but when temperatures and humidity are high, producers must also consider other ways to keep their livestock comfortable,” he said.
ICA is encouraging cattle producers to take advice from Iowa State University’s Extension Beef Veterinarian, Dr. Grant Dewell, DVM. Dr. Dewell recommends these protective measures:
- Clean fresh water – consumption of water can double during extreme heat. Cattle need at least 2 gal./100 lbs/day during heat events. Additionally, make sure there is adequate room for cattle to drink, and that supply lines can provide cool water fast enough.
- Shift to feeding a higher percentage of feed in the afternoon and consider lowering the energy content by 5%.
- Provide shade if possible. UV radiation is many times the critical factor for livestock losses due to heat stress.
- Ensure that there are no restrictions to air movement around cattle, such as hay storage.
- If necessary, begin sprinkling cattle with water if signs of heat stress are evident.
Deppe says producers who start using fans or providing water sprinklers on their cattle should be prepared to use that process until more moderate temperatures return.
Cattle producers can monitor the forecasted heat stress index and find tips for cooling cattle at http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=21306 . More information on preventing heat stress in cattle is available at http://vetmed.iastate.edu/, and type “heat stress cattle” in the search box on the upper right.