Much of the Central Plains cattle-feeding region experienced severe heat over the July 11 weekend, putting cattle at risk for heat stress, and those conditions are likely to persist through the first half of this week.  

The USDA Agriculture Research Service, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, predicts emergency heat-stress levels for Monday, July 13 and Tuesday, July 14 across a large region of the central U.S. stretching from Texas into Nebraska and Iowa. Heat-stress risk is due to high temperatures, higher humidity, low wind speeds and little cloud cover.  

The forecast indicates the heat-stress risk begins to decline, particularly in northern areas, on Tuesday and through the rest of the week. Some areas in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi however will experience severe heat through the week. The Heat Stress Forecast Map is available online from USDA.

Nebraska Extension Educator Randy Saner recommends providing cattle with careful attention in the mornings following high-risk days to see if they have cooled down sufficiently to handle another day of heat, or if intervention such as sprinkling feedlot pens should be implemented. 

Precautions should include:

·         Check water flow in waters.

·         Organize extra water sources such as livestock tanks and delivery tanks. 

·         Develop a plan for emergency water supplement may include contacting neighbors with firefighting equipment to wet down cattle that are experiencing heat stress.

Cattle with reduced lung capacity from previous sickness and black hided cattle are more susceptible.  Consider making plans to move cattle to empty pens on Friday to allow for greater use of waterers.

While sprinklers can be used to cool cattle and reduce pen-surface temperatures, Saner recommends avoiding overuse which could create more humidity and increase the heat index in the feedlot.

Nebraska Extension offers good recommendations for avoiding avoid heat stress, and a very good article on the use of sprinkling mounds can be found here