During the hot summer months your cattle may be in danger of heat stress. Although a rising mercury is obviously something to be concerned about, the combination of high heat and high humidity is what can really put your livestock in jeopardy. So how much heat can your cattle take?
Heat and Humidity
When humans overheat we seek the cover of shade, the comfort of refreshing liquids, and the luxury of air conditioning. These options may not always be available for livestock. Whenever the outdoor temp is higher than their body temperature they can’t dissipate heat and their body temps rise.
Humidity is another huge factor that contributes to the danger of heat stress. As humidity rises, temperatures that may not otherwise pose a threat to your cattle can become dangerous. If the relative humidity is sufficiently high, livestock can enter danger territory at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
What You Can Do
What can you do to help prevent heat stress? One thing is to avoid working your livestock in high heat and humidity. If you can, schedule activity for the early morning hours before the heat begins to ramp-up.
Providing sufficient shady places for your livestock can help. Since cattle are ruminates, mammals that regurgitate and chew partially-digested food, they typically eat large amounts of forage and then rest and digest it. As food ferments in their stomach and is later digested, heat is generated and needs to dissipate, so it’s ideal to have a shady place for them to rest and cool down. Cows are especially sensitive to hot weather. Their body temp is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, three degrees higher than humans.
A sufficient supply of water sources, like troughs and ponds, is obviously another significant way to keep your cattle cool.
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