Summer is already here—maybe not quite by the calendar date yet (the first official day of summer is June 20), but the temperatures are starting to increase. After a cool spring that feels good to people, many cattle in the first week or two of June 2016 have not yet adapted to warmer weather and these animals still have remnants of a winter hair coat. For these cattle, the increasing temperature will be an unwelcome change.
Temperatures are expected to reach the mid- to upper 90’s across Iowa and other areas of the Midwest on Friday June 10 and Saturday June 11. Although cattle should be able to tolerate this heat, it's a good reminder that more hot weather is yet to come and what has been a cool spring this year may turn into a hot, dry summer.
Take steps now to help keep your cattle comfortable
“This early heat event is a good opportunity to make sure that your heat stress mitigation strategies for your beef cow herd or feedlot cattle will be functional for the rest of the summer,” says Grant Dewell, Iowa State University Extension beef cattle veterinarian. The Iowa Beef Center website has information and details on proper heat abatement strategies such as shade and sprinklers.
Also, pay close attention to cattle this coming weekend as the rapid change in temperature may catch some at-risk cattle having to deal with heat stress. This includes cattle at end of a feeding period, cattle with previous respiratory disease and cattle that have not yet fully shed out their winter coat.
Check out these additional useful resources
Click on Heat Stress in Beef Cattle. It is a 4-page ISU Extension publication authored by Grant Dewell, and it is available as a free download. Heat stress is a recurring issue for most areas where cattle feeding occurs, he notes. Proper planning can provide effective mitigation strategies and minimize death loss during heat events. This publication provides guidance for identifying and managing heat stress in feedlot cattle.
Increasing heat and humidity requires awareness of your livestock and possible adjustments to your grazing practices, feed supplies and management practices, says Dewell. For an update on the weather forecast for various regions of the U.S. at any time this summer, you can click on USDA ARS 7-day heat stress forecast.