Iowa State University Beef Center Veterinarian Grant Dewell says the biggest keys to keeping cattle comfortable is plenty of shade and large amounts of drinking water.
“Their water intake will increase by two to three times during these hot days,” Dewell said. “So, we always want to make sure people’s water tanks are in good shape, the valves are running freely, and they don’t have something stuck or some hard water deposits on there that limit the ability for those tanks to refill.” Farmers are also advised to use fans and sprinkle cattle with water if the animals are showing signs of heat stress.
According to Dewell, cattle in Iowa fair pretty well when temperatures are below 90-degrees. Actual temperatures this week have reached the mid-to-upper 90s in parts of the state. “If you think about it, most of our cattle we deal with (in Iowa) — Angus, Hereford, Simmentals — are cattle from the north; northern England, Germany, and those types of places where they don’t get this amount of heat,” Dewell said. “They’re really developed for cold weather environments and an Iowa summer is a little bit warm for them.”
There have been no reports of cattle deaths in Iowa due to heat in many years. In the summer of 2011, beef producers in five states reported nearly 20,000 cattle deaths due to an extended period of extreme heat and humidity. According to the Iowa Beef Industry Council, there are more than 3.8 million cows on farms across the state. Iowa is ranked 9th in the country in terms of beef cow production and 12th in dairy cows.