Heat Stress Management Options for Beef Cattle
Much of Nebraska's cattle have been in the "Emergency" heat stress category at times since late June 2012. With the "Emergency" heat stress conditions continuing in July, you can check the USDA's cattle heat stress maps for forecasts.
Dee Griffin, UNL Extension Veterinarian, states that air flow and water are the keys to minimizing death loss. Move cattle out of pens that have air flow obstructions, divide pens of cattle and place part of the cattle in empty pens to increase their access to water. Also, avoid water restriction by leasing or purchasing water tanks/tubs (cattle need 20 gallons of water and about half must be available in the middle of the afternoon).
Black or dark red colored cattle are at greatest risk. All naturally fed cattle are at a higher risk than conventional finished cattle. Additional high risk cattle are discussed on the USDA ARS Cattle Risk Factors page.
Management options for heat stress can be found in these two Nebguides:
- Managing Feedlot Heat Stress (PDF version, 651KB) and
- How to Reduce Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle (PDF version, 342KB).
The Potassium for Feedlot Cattle Exposed to Heat Stress (PDF 144KB) article in the 2012 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report may also be helpful.