This week’s extreme heat is tough on all animals kept outdoors, but cows have an especially difficult time dealing with high temperatures and heavy humidity. Matt Deppe is C.E.O. of the Iowa Cattleman’s Association.
“Cows don’t have as many sweat glands as other livestock, so to speak, so when they cool themselves they do a lot of panting and respiration that way,” Deppe says. “On top of that, they’re not very efficient distributors of heat away from their body. So, that’s why it really affects them quite a bit.”
Temperatures topped 100 degrees in many areas of Iowa Wednesday and are expected to do so again today and tomorrow. Deppe says farmers should be providing their cattle with plenty of clean, fresh water and use a higher percentage of feed in the late afternoon.
“The third logical step…if you’re feeding in an open feedlot or if you have a cow/calf operation and they’re in an open pasture without a whole lot of trees, think about where you can put those cattle or give them some options to get under some shade so they don’t have as much U-V exposure from a heat standpoint,” Deppe said.
In July of last year, there were several reports of cattle deaths in Iowa due to extreme heat. Producers who lost cattle were able to recoup some of the value of the animal through a Livestock Indemnity Program. That program was allowed to expire last October.
“It’s really important this year, since that (program) is not available, to make sure that producers think forward and take those prevention steps and take care of their livestock,” Deppe said. Farmers are also advised to use fans and sprinkle cattle with water if the animals are showing signs of heat stress.