Friday, July 15, 2011

Heat Stress in South Dakota Feedyards Will be a Major Issue Next Week

Although temperatures will only be in the low to mid-90's, high relative humidity and low winds speeds are the major threats to penned cattle.

The real issue will be high nighttime temps and high humidity will not allow stressed cattle to cool off overnight, therefore cattle cannot handle the heat of the next day.

Heat stress can't be completely avoided but a little management can go a long ways towards keeping cattle cooler and maintaining feed intake.

The biggest thing cattlemen can do is help cattle cool off at night by sprinkling the mounds in dirt pens with water in the evening to give cattle a cool place to lie down and dissipate body heat. Nothing you can do is more important than that.

Cattlemen will also have to regularly monitor cattle disposition during the day and make judgement calls on whether cattle need cool water sprayed directly on them to dissipate body heat.

Dr. Ben Holland, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Feedlot Specialist said, “Cattlemen need to start planning to keep cattle cool before the heat arrives, once cattle get hot, it’s too late to prevent problems.”

Dr. Holland also recommended acclimating cattle to being sprayed with water now, while is cool, so they don’t panic when you try to spray them when it is hot and unnecessarily generate more body heat.

Dr. Kelly Bruns, SDSU Professor of Animal Science said, “Cattlemen need to start preparing for the heat today by figuring out what auxillary water sources are available if cattle need extra water to drink and how is water going to be delivered to sprinkle pen mounds and cattle. He added, “whether you need to work with the local fire department or borrow a water truck to carry water, this needs to be figured out before Saturday evening when it is likely that cattle will start showing signs of stress in some areas.

Although some cloud cover and isolated thunderstorms are forecasted for Sunday, many areas will be hot and sunny most of the day and cattle could really start to suffer on Monday and Tuesday.

Thank you, have a great day, and good luck!!

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