‘This job is a very serious commitment’: Ranchers getting ready for high heat

After several thousand head of cattle down died as a result of heat stress in Kansas, efforts are being made have that not happen in Nebraska.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 9:22 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Several thousand heads of cattle died as a result of heat stress in Kansas.

In an effort to not have that happen in Nebraska, some like Greg Baxter, CEO of T & E Cattle Company, are changing the way they operate to protect their cattle.

Baxter told Local4 News one of the ways they’re battling the heat is by changing what times they cattle feed, making the morning meal earlier in the day to make sure it’s as cool as can be.

Baxter said when cows get hot, they don’t want to eat. In addition to the temperature, Baxter is also watching things like the dew point.

That’s the temperature needed to be reached to pull moisture out of the atmosphere, for instance, Grand Island’s high on Friday was 95° with a dew point of 70°. Meaning no moisture would come out of the atmosphere until the temperature reached 70°.

Baxter also said cows lack a crucial body cooling mechanism.

“Like we humans, we get heated up and we perspire that’s how our body gets rid of the heat,” Baxter said. “Cattle and dogs, both, their real one and only means of helping with that is to be inactive and pant the reparations, the rapid respirations will help exchange and cool their body temperatures best as it can.”

But in cases like Kansas, Baxter said those types of events can take their toll on producers.

“Dealing with the morale, the human and the humane is something I can not overemphasize to the public just how serious people are in this business,” Baxter said.

Agriculture analyst Don Close told Local4 News there is an emotional impact on producers when they lose a head of cattle.

“The emotional toll it takes on those producers with their dedication to animal husbandry and the best possible care for those animals,” Close said.

Baxter added, “this job is a very serious commitment and people take it incredibly personally.”

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