By Grant Dewell—Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
After a cold winter and long cool spring, summer is here. Temperatures will be in the mid-90s for the foreseeable future, and with all the precipitation we have had, the humidity will be elevated as well. Feedlot cattle may not be acclimated to summer temperatures yet and the fast warm up may cause some heat stress issues.
Evaluate your cattle in the morning and again in the afternoon to make sure they are coping with the heat. Make sure cattle have access to plenty of fresh water and provide shade or sprinklers if possible. Pay close attention, as the rapid change in temperature may catch some at-risk cattle (cattle at end of feeding period or cattle with previous respiratory disease) dealing with excessive heat stress.
This heat event is a good opportunity to make sure that your mitigation strategies will be functional for the rest of the summer. The Iowa Beef Center website (http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/heatresources.html) has information and details on proper heat abatement strategies such as shade and sprinklers.
Check Out These Additional Resources:
“Heat Stress in Beef Cattle,” four-page publication by Dewell, available as free download: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/14166
USDA ARS 7-day heat stress forecast: https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/clay-center-ne/marc/docs/heat-stress/main/
USDA smartphone app provides forecasts of weather conditions that can trigger heat stress in cattle. Free download from Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hollmanmedia.heatstress&hl=en) and the App Store (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/heat-stress/id981604226)