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Cattle feeders manage heat stress among cattle

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 7:09 PM CDT
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DONIPHAN, Neb. (KSNB) - With the weather being as hot as it is, cattle feeders are having to keep an eye out for heat stress.

“We kind of went from mild temperatures to all of a sudden the summer heat has hit and so cattle really haven’t had the chance to acclimate to the summer heat,” said Nebraska Extension Educator Erin Laborie.

Animals are much different from humans in how they deal with it. They can only handle up to 75 degrees depending on size and exceeding temperatures mixed with humidity and no air movement puts them in danger.

“Anytime we have a combination of those things, there’s a potential for cattle to experience heat stress,” Laborie said.

Robb Feed Yard in Doniphan uses several methods to keep this from happening.

“We try to take steps to mediate the impact before it gets here and instead of trying to recover from it, we try to prepare for it,” Owner Greg Robb said.

The feed yard provides plenty of water, shade and keep these two stations separated, so animals don’t herd and block access to the water source. They also feed them heat supplements in the evening and monitor them four to five times a day to make sure they aren’t showing any signs of heat stress.

“If you get an animal like that then you have to, you know, gently get him out of there and get him cooled down in a shade place,” Robb said. “If he doesn’t have any, possibly water to cool him down but you’ve got to get that animal cooled down.”

Robb said if they can’t get them cooled down worst case scenario is they die or have a bunch of cattle lose weight and not perform.

“If you lose one, you lose it but if you have a whole feed lot full of cattle that don’t gain any weight for two weeks, then that’s an economic disaster,” Robb said.

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