The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is encouraging farmers to watch cattle for heat stress. According to the USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center, the heat in Iowa is expected to be in the ‘danger’ to ‘emergency zone for a couple of days this week for cattle. The estimates of heat stress are based on temperature, wind speed, humidity and solar radiation. ISU’s Extension Beef Veterinarian Dr. Grant Dewell recommends the following protective measures:
- clean fresh water – consumption can double during extreme heat and cattle needs at least 2 gallons per 100 pounds each day during heat events. Also, make sure there is enough room for cattle to drink and that supply lines can provide cool water fast enough
- shift feeding a higher percentage of feed in the afternoon and consider lowering the energy content by 5-percent
- 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, such as hay storage
- sprinkle cattle with water if signs of heat stress are evident.
Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, says, “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 adds, 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 here.
More information on preventing heat stress in cattle is available here.