Hot summer days not only make people uncomfortable outdoors but also have a significant impact on livestock, according to experts. A.J. Tarpoff, a beef veterinarian from K-State Research and Extension, emphasizes that temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation all play a role in affecting cattle. Therefore, it is crucial for producers to pay attention not only to daytime temperatures but also to nighttime temperatures in order to prevent heat stress.
Tarpoff highlights the importance of providing cattle with approximately six hours of nighttime cooling to dissipate the heat accumulated during the day. To assist producers in monitoring weather conditions, Tarpoff recommends utilizing the Kansas Mesonet, a forecasting tool specifically designed for this purpose.
In order to minimize heat stress on cattle, Tarpoff suggests that producers should complete all processing or handling tasks with the animals before 10 a.m. on hot days. Additionally, adjusting feeding times to later in the evening can help reduce the heat load generated by digestion.
Tarpoff further advises reducing stocking load, which allows for better air circulation and improved access to water. This strategy helps increase wind speed, aiding in the dissipation of excess heat during the summer months. Furthermore, providing cattle with bedding and shade offers them a cool place to rest, as cattle have a natural inclination to seek shade.
When it comes to the use of water misters, Tarpoff advises their use only in the morning and evening for evaporative cooling of the pen surface. He warns against wetting the cattle during the heat of the day, as it can lead to an increase in humidity at the pen level, potentially exacerbating the situation.
By implementing these strategies, producers can help mitigate the negative effects of hot summer days on livestock. Taking measures such as monitoring nighttime cooling, adjusting feeding times, improving air circulation and access to water, providing shade and bedding, and using water misters appropriately can contribute to the overall well-being and comfort of cattle during periods of high heat.
The well-being of livestock is a top priority for producers, especially during hot summer days. Following the recommendations of experts like A.J. Tarpoff can significantly reduce heat stress on cattle and create a more comfortable environment for them. By implementing these practical measures, producers can ensure the health and productivity of their animals even in the face of scorching temperatures.