Blog > June 2020 > Help Cattle Beat the Heat

Help Cattle Beat the Heat

June 15, 2020

CVA Feed Sales Manager, Brandi Salestrom

With the recent high temperatures, cow-calf producers and feedlots are working to keep their cattle cool and maintaining intakes. It is estimated that heat stress-related mortalities and performance reductions add up to $370 million each year. Conquering the heat can be a challenge, and when combined with high humidity, cattle become even more stressed.

A few items to keep in mind are that cattle are only at a mild stress level when the temperature is 86°, and the humidity is at 50%, but when the temperature is 95° with 90% humidity, cattle quickly become severely stressed. Heat stress over a duration of time may result in reduced body weight, feed intake, and feed conversions. Research has shown that depending on the length and frequency of heat stress periods, cattle’s dry-matter intake can be reduced by up to 125 pounds during their time in the feed yard, which equals 40 pounds of gain lost per head. Other data from research indicates that in high-risk areas, an average of 4-5 deaths occur for every 1000 head. Here are some tips from your Central Valley Ag Feed Team to help keep cattle comfortable and on feed during the hot days of summer.

Water quality and quantity is the most important factor. Keeping your cattle tanks, automatic waters, and buckets clean and full of fresh, cool water is often overlooked and an easy problem to fix. Dirty, stale, and warm water isn’t something we would drink ourselves, so neither should our animals. Check waters daily to ensure they are running properly and free of debris. Without water consumption, cattle eat less, which leads to decreased gains. Not only is this an important factor in feedlot cattle, but show cattle as well.

Next is shade. Pastures with trees or open buildings give cattle relief from direct sunlight. For enclosed buildings, it’s important to use fans to help move the air around. Many local feedlots have shades in the pens with cattle over 1000lbs or in their hospital pens. Older cows and fleshy cattle are most susceptible to heat stress. Cow-calf producers should also keep in mind that it’s during these hot summer months when their bulls should be working to get cows bred. If heat stressed, the bull may not be doing his job, which could lead to open cows in the fall.

If it’s necessary to work or transport cattle, try to do it early in the morning with the lowest amount of stress put on the animal as possible. When the temperatures stay high throughout the day and during the night, cattle never get a chance to cool down.

Sprinklers are another way to help cool the ground and cattle. However, a mist rather than large drops may increase humidity and defeat the purpose. Using a fly control product/program and top-dress products for heat control work to combat negative impacts on metabolic & digestive function during times of heat stress. These products can be purchased at your local Central Valley Ag feed location.

When dealing with the heat, it’s best to be proactive and have a management plan. If producers have any questions, contact your local CVA Feed Sales Specialist, and we will work to design a program to best fit your herd's needs.
Posted: 6/15/2020 5:12:11 PM by Kelli Reznicek | with 0 comments

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