Between 3,500 and 4,000 head of cattle have died in Iowa during the recent heat wave. That’s according to a poll of Iowa Cattlemen’s Association members. Dal Grooms, spokesperson for the association, says farmers are doing all they can to protect their animals but cattle are especially vulnerable as they don’t sweat and rely only on respiration.
“I’ve talked to producers who’ve been out there just constantly looking for things to do to protect those cattle,” Grooms said. “When it gets to be hot and humid like this, it is just very difficult to stop all losses.” Some parts of the state last week had six or seven consecutive days with temperatures in the mid to upper 90s and heat indexes as high as 110 degrees.
A heat advisory is back in place for much of southern Iowa today. Grooms says farmers have set up mist systems, industrial sizes fans and additional shelter in an attempt to cool off their cattle. She says the problems could persist into the fall. This is breeding time for cattle and the heat causes lower fertility for bulls and difficulty in the early stages of pregnancy for cows and heifers.
“Just because it finally cools off, those stressors don’t go away,” Grooms said. “So (producers) will be watching those animals for quite a few weeks now to make sure they can get them back to health.” Grooms says most of the cattle deaths were reported in eastern Iowa, which did not receive as much rain as other parts of the state last week.