From the August issue of Drovers CattleNetwork.
Once every few years, the perfect storm occurs for catastrophes in the livestock business — a major heat event.
Typically it can start off with a frontal boundary becoming stationary simultaneous with a tenth to half inch of rain following, explains University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor emeritus Terry Mader.. When the clouds clear and the sun comes out, the feedyard pens turn into a steam oven, as humidity and temperature levels skyrocket while moisture evaporates. Cattle go from the cooling effects of rain, which stimulates feed intake, to very hot conditions in a relatively short amount of time. The effects can be devastating.
In a July 2011 heat wave, nearly 15,000 cattle across five states died from heat stress, in reports quoted by Mader. This was triple the death loss reported in other summers with major heat stress: 1995, 1999, 2006, 2009 and 2010. In recent weeks this year we have had reports of losses of cattle, due to heat stress, that were comparable to the 2011 heat wave. Hopefully, the magnitude of those losses is not the same as 2011.
“As part of the Beef Quality Assurance Feedyard Assessment, producers are given training to come up with a structured plan of action in the coming of a heat event,” Mader says, suggesting feedyard producers go through the training if they haven’t already.
“Whether it is having a backup generator to keep water pumps going in case of a power outage or a water wagon and trained crew ready to go, feedyards must be ready to take care of their animals’ welfare in case of an emergency."