This week looks to present a high risk for extreme livestock heat stress. The combination of high temperatures and humidities and low wind speeds create conditions that can place livestock in danger.
Veterinarians and animal scientists say symptoms of heat stress in cattle include slobbering, increased respiration rate and an elevated head. They suggest water availability is the most important and controllable factor to prevent it. Shade, either temporary or permanent, can greatly reduce accumulated heat load. Light-colored bedding, such as straw, has proven through research to reduce surface temperatures and allow cattle to transfer heat load. For confined cattle, delivering 70% or more of the daily feed two to four hours after the peak ambient temperature has been reached will allow the heat of digestion to take place in the evening and overnight hours.
If sprinklers are used to mitigate heat, droplets should be large enough to soak the hide. Spraying a mist over cattle can serve to increase humidity and worsen the problem.
Monitoring weather conditions and taking these precautions will help minimize the effects of heat on cattle health, welfare and performance. Links to regularly updated livestock heat stress maps can be found here.
For more information visit www.kla.org.