What's that smell?
Aug 16, 2016
My Cow’s are Melting!!
It’s not just hot outside, IT’S HOT outside!! If your hot, your cattle are hotter, and that’s bad news.
Most everyone is suffering with extreme heat & humidity and top that with a severe drought, well buddy that’s a recipe for disaster in the cattle world.
Not only will this summers weather play a huge role in cattle prices much sooner than later, but feed for cattle in all forms will be at a premium by the end of this month.
A friend of ours who also raises Beefalo cattle in Shepherdsville, KY is having probably the worst haying season in memory. He hasn’t had a 2-3 day stretch of rain-free hay making weather all season. We on the other hand, would welcome even a ¼ of the precipitation he has received. Yesterday it was 105* here in the Northeast. That’s unheard of even during the “Dog Day’s of Summer” in PA. At the other end of our country, specifically the State of Louisiana, their literally under water with 20,000 people having been rescued at the time I posted this blog.
No matter where your located, Timber Lake, South Dakota to Shepherdsville, KY and all places in between, heat stress is playing a major role in making hay and keeping your cattle safe and healthy.
Being proactive is the best approach for dealing with heat stress in cattle. Once cattle are experiencing heat stress, it may be too late to help them. Interventions that cause animals to cool extremely rapid or animal distress could have disastrous consequences. Most producers, large or small, would think that because it so refreshing to jump in the pool after chores for instant relief, that spraying down their livestock with cool/cold water should have the same heat relief/effect? Wrong! That could actually kill your animals. Having a BMP plan in place to address heat stress could make/save you money this season in the form of maintained animal performance during periods of heat and in avoiding death losses in severe cases.
Some things to think about…….
Cattle are unable to dissipate their heat load efficiently. Their sweating mechanism is poor and they rely on respiration to cool themselves. A further disadvantage is the fermentation process within the rumen generates additional heat that cattle need to disperse. As they cannot get rid of heat effectively they accumulate a heat load during the day and dissipate heat at night when it is cooler.
When the relative humidity exceeds 50%, the dissipation of heat by evaporative cooling becomes much more difficult and signs of heat stress develop sooner.
Lean/thinner cattle handle heat stress better. Heavy cattle are unable to handle heat stress as well as lighter weight cattle because their increased fat deposition prevents cattle from regulating their heat effectively.
How to prevent Heat Stress…….
Shade structures, whether permanent in feedlots, mobile in pastures, or permanent in pastures in the form of tree’s, obviously vary in terms of investment.
Shade structures should be a minimum of 10- to 12-ft. high to allow for breeze underneath. A North to South orientation is recommended so the shade moves throughout the day. This makes cattle move throughout the
day and decreases the amount of mud buildup beneath the structure do to the cattle dispersing urine and manure. If at all possible a movable structure is the best option. Unless of course you have your cattle trained to not defecate under or near the structure!? This will obviously cause a fly problem, and than you’ll have other problems to deal with such as possible pink-eye.
Water is important! This might sound like a no-brainer, but there are producers that need to hear this.
Water consumption increases by 20% when water is clean, so make sure your waterers are cleaned more often in hot weather.
Fans are strongly recommended when applications are possible. A misting fan is optimal and can either be purchased commercially or with a little ingenuity, can be made out of existing fans with careful planning. Amusement parks have them set-up for patrons, Agricultural exhibitions/Demo. Fairs have them in working display’s, but remember folks, electricity and water don’t usually mix so do some research before spraying anything through a fan that’s energized. Again, you would think this is a no-brainer but unfortunately not every one has a working brain.
DO NOT soak your cattle with COLD WATER. This will shock their system and could actually make their health condition worse. The same holds true with pigs.