This week’s extreme heat has killed hundreds of cattle in South Dakota, but as yet, no figures are being released about cattle deaths in Nebraska, where beef is a $10-billion a year industry.
While temps today are a little cooler, the forecast still calls for steamy days ahead. Cattle producer Dal Grooms says cows have an especially difficult time dealing with high temperatures, heavy humidity and a lack of wind.
“Cattle don’t really sweat like some livestock do, they rely completely on respiration,” Grooms explained. “If you’ve walked outside, you know it’s really hard to breathe. Well, it’s really, really hard to breathe for those cattle.”
Grooms says even when producers do everything right, providing shade, extra water and sprinkling systems, they may lose some cattle.
“We know in South Dakota they’ve had 1,000 to 1,500 cattle lost to this heat,” Grooms said. “It looks like (the hot weather) is going to continue for a couple more days, so we really want people to focus on what they can do to keep those animals alive through this sort of situation.”
Farmers can be reimbursed for animals lost in severe weather, including losses due to heat. But, Grooms says producers need to keep accurate records and show what measures they took to protect their livestock.
“They need to be taking photographs, document what’s happened, record the weights of those cattle and getting third party verification as to what has happened,” Grooms said.
A “notice of loss” report should be provided to a local Farmer Service Agency (FSA) office within 30 days.
In most cases, the FSA’s Livestock Indemnity Program will provide coverage up to 75% of the value of the animal.