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Protecting cattle from heat stress

By: Guest Author

June 17, 2022

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Extreme high temperatures are hitting many parts of central North America, increasing the potential for heat stress in cattle, warns Karl Hoppe, North Dakota State University livestock systems specialist.

“One day of heat stress is uncomfortable, but two or more days back to back without night cooling can be deadly for livestock,” says Hoppe.

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“Signs that animals are trying to regulate their internal body temperature include an increased respiration rate, increased heart rate and increased panting,” says Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension veterinarian. “Once cattle start to pant, some heat stress has occurred.”

“If cattle are already experiencing severe heat stress, it may be difficult to help them recover,” cautions Zac Carlson, NDSU Extension beef cattle specialist. “Being prepared and implementing an action plan can minimize the impacts of heat stress on animal performance during the upcoming periods of heat and will avoid death losses in severe cases.”

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Hoppe, Stokka and Carlson recommend farmers and ranchers take the following steps to protect cattle from heat stress:

An action plan should include the following:

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“Also, remember that interventions causing animals distress or to cool extremely rapidly could have disastrous consequences,” Stokka says.

This article was originally written by North Dakota State University, and modified slighty for RealAgriculture’s audience outside North Dakota. Published under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

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