MISSOURI — Higher temperatures and increased humidity during the summer can be dangerous for cattle herds as they can overheat, which can be deadly.

Cattle producers in Missouri must find a way to cool off their herd while trying to sustain a grazing or feeding system.

KMZU’s Dan Watson talked with Dr. Joseph Zulovich, an Agricultural Engineer with the University of Missouri Extension, about some very simple, yet efficient approaches to keeping a herd comfortable when the outside temperature starts to heat up.

Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired Thursday on KMZU.


Photo: United States Department of Agriculture

One thing that cattle, along with other types of livestock, do during the summer is decrease the amount of food they consume through out the day.

“The hot summer weather, the primary impact is going to be the animals reduce feed intake,” Zulovich said, “and as a result they decrease productivity in growth or milk production or eggs or whatever the case might be.”

Extremely hot weather can cause cattle to suffer from heat stress. Zulovich recommends checking a cow’s breathing rate and if it is higher than 70 breaths per minute, then preventative must be taken to cool the animal down.

Simple methods such as ensuring there is adequate drinking water and drinking space as well as providing shade can help minimize the risk of heat stress on cattle. Other, more complex, techniques can also help cattle beat the heat.

“. . . and then the fifth option is looking at actually providing some evaporative cooling,” Zulovich explained, “for Missouri conditions, I think its most advisable to wet the animal and then allow that moisture to dry off . . .”

According to Zulovich, a producer should also check on their herd in the morning to make sure that the cattle have adequately recovered from the prior day’s heat.