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Water, shade key for beef cattle

July 2, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

Okay, so it's hot outside.

So what if you couldn't go inside to cool off this summer - at all?

That's the situation for beef cattle in Emmet County that right now are facing some of the highest heat indexes in years.

Article Photos

These cattle get some relief from Monday’s heat as they wade in the east fork of the Des Moines River.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

Beth Doran, Iowa State University Extension beef specialist in Orange City, says now is a stressful time for beef cattle.

That's where feed lots come to mind.

"I'm sure it's going to be tough to keep the cattle on feed," said Doran, noting that dark, heavy cattle just coming out of sickness may be most at stress.

Doran advises giving cattle plenty of running waer and shade or a sprinkler that puts droplets - not a drizzle - on cattle. She also advises avoiding working cattle. "I'm sure our gains have been reduced," she said.

As for cow-calf pairs, Doran noted it's not in the middle of breeding season so she's somewhat worried about stress on developing embryos.

So she encourages shade for all cattle - or sprinkler systems with air circulation so the water evaporates. Doran said producers should also check to see if cows are entering estrus to avoid damage to the fetus.

Bulls need access to shade too, because if a bull goes sterile from the heat it could take him 60 days to recover, she said.

Water requirements for cattle double in the heat, and Doran suggests higher feed rations - maybe 60 percent - at night with 40 percent in the morning.

She encourages anyone with losses to get a veterinarian's signature and to keep good inventory records.

Doran said she hasn't heard of any heat disaster assistance yet, but she did note producers in some south-central Iowa counties were receiving assistance based on drought.



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