December 22, 2014

Livestock need TLC when the sun swelters this hot

This extreme heat is dangerous and potentially-deadly for livestock. Veterinarian Grant Dewell recommends farmers and ranchers provide clean fresh water and plenty of it.

Parts of Nebraska saw temperatures as high as 112-degrees this week and Dewell says a cow’s water consumption can double when it’s this hot.

“They’re losing a lot of water,” he says. “They’re sweating and respiring as much as they can to get rid of heat so evaporation is a big deal. You need to replenish all of that water they’re losing.”

The cattle rumen generates heat from the fermentation process, so Dewell recommends feeding a higher percentage of the animal’s diet in the afternoon.

“If we feed in the morning, that rumen temperature is going to peak somewhere between 12 and 2 o’clock which is just about the time environmental temperatures start peaking,” he says. “If we can delay that and not feed until the afternoon, then that rumen temperature is peaking in the evening when it’s starting to cool off.”

Dewell also suggests lowering the energy content by five-percent, and make sure there’s shade, if possible. Direct sun, especially on dark-hided cattle, is a critical factor in livestock losses due to heat stress.

If necessary, begin sprinkling cattle with water if signs of heat stress appear.