Midwest states issue heat stress warnings for cattleHeat stress maps show farmers should take steps to ensure the safety of themselves and their cattle as Midwest and southern states have heat forecasted at emergency levels.

Hot temperatures have thermometers above 90 degrees through Friday in parts of the Midwest, Oklahoma and Texas. The USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center says the heat situation for cattle will be in the “danger” and “emergency” areas putting cattle at risk if they’re not kept cool.

Dee Griffin, UNL Extension Veterinarian, advises cattle producers to increase air flow and make sure water is available for animals. Cattle can drink twice as much water in the presence of heat. So each animal should have access to 20 gallons of water per day with about half of their intake during the middle of the afternoon.

Matt Deppe, the CEO for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association says cattle are at an elevated risk compared to other animals because cattle rely on respiration more than sweating to cool down.

Moving animals out of pens with air flow obstructions, using sprinklers, providing shade and dividing cattle for easier access to water will keep cattle cool.

Black or dark red colored cattle are more likely to be susceptible to heat stress as are naturally fed cattle and animals in poor health. The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service provides a risk factors page listing other traits that could elevate a cow’s response to heat stress.