Veterinarian Grant Dewell says the two biggest keys to keeping cattle comfortable in the sweltering weather are plenty of shade and large amounts of drinking water.
“Their water intake will increase by two to three times during these hot days,” Dewell said. “We always want to make sure people’s water tanks are in good shape, the valves are running freely, and they don’t have something stuck or some hard water deposits on there that limit the ability for those tanks to refill.”
Farmers and ranchers are advised to use fans and sprinkle their cattle with water if the animals are showing signs of heat stress.
“They do okay when it’s less than 90 degrees, they can tolerate it fairly well,” he says. “When it gets over 90 degrees, it becomes a bit more difficult for them to try to manage that heat.”
Temperatures this week have reached the mid-to-upper 90s in parts of the Husker State. The heat index, a calculation combining heat and humidity levels, has crept into triple digits.
“If you think about it, most of our cattle we deal with — Angus, Hereford, Simmentals — are cattle from the north; northern England, Germany, and those types of places where they don’t get this amount of heat at this latitude,” Dewell said. “They’re really developed for cold weather environments.”
The beef industry is worth more than $12-billion a year to Nebraska’s economy. It’s the state’s single largest industry.
There are 20,000 beef cow operations with nearly two-million head of beef cows statewide. It ranks the state second in the country behind only Texas.
Nebraska has another 4,600 cattle feeding operations, with more than five-million cattle fed and marketed per year.