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Beef Buzz News


Preventing and Relieving Heat Stress in At-Risk Cattle Herds

Mon, 02 Jul 2012 11:16:06 CDT

Preventing and Relieving Heat Stress in At-Risk Cattle Herds
With the probability of temperatures soaring to near one hundred or above for much of the next two months, heat stress in cattle herds becomes a very real danger.

In the latest edition of the Beef Buzz, Kansas State University beef veterinarian Larry Hollis discussings heat stress and its remedies. You can hear his comments by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.

Hollis says there are a number of signs to look out for indicating cattle are becoming heat stressed.

“They’re going to be off feed. One of the things we’ll commonly see, very commonly, is with them standing in a water source if they’re pasture animals with a pond available that they can stand in. They’ll stand in the water to cool themselves. Or, if they’re watering out of some sort of tank, they’ll be standing with their head over the water tank trying to pick up a little coolness from that water. “

Hollis says if that doesn’t do the trick, cattle will employ other methods in an attempt to cool themselves.

“One of the things we’ll notice is that these animals, as this thing becomes progressive, will start panting or we’ll see their respiratory rate start to increase. Once it increases past a certain point, then we’re going to see that they start salivating and we’ll notice them out there slobbering. Then they’ll go to open mouth breathing.”

Dr. Hollis says it’s imperative for producers to take action to relieve or, ideally, prevent heat stress in their herds.

“First of all, avoid gathering or working cattle during the heat of the day. Typically what we want to do is start at first light and get done by ten o’clock in the morning before it heats up any further. Another is to have an abundant supply of cold water. The operative word here is abundant because drinking cold water will allow the cattle to cool themselves off.”

Hollis says there are other measures that can be employed as well.

“Another thing we need to do is to make sure we control flies. Flies are going to cause the cattle to bunch together, so they’re going to dissipate heat less efficiently. And kind of as a last ditch effort, if we need to, we need to put sprinklers out there. Yard sprinklers will work, but the thing we want to make sure is whatever type of sprinkler system that we have creates large droplets of water because we want to get the animals wet all the way to the skin. If all we do is get a mist or get the water standing on the hair, it actually makes it worse for the cattle.”

Hollis says that if your local fire department permits it, if things get so bad you’re facing catastrophic loss, you might call in the fire department to hose down the cattle and get them thoroughly soaked.


The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.


You can also click here for a USDA publication on heat stress in cattle.

   


   

Dr. Larry Hollis talks about combatting heat stress in cattle.
right-click to download mp3

 

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