As summer begins and temperatures increase - Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Livestock Specialist Brian Freking says it’s important for cattle producers to understand and avoid heat stress in cattle.
Cattle have an upper critical temperature approximately 20-degrees cooler than humans. They can be in the danger zone for extreme heat stress at 80 or 90-degrees. Humidity also is a stress that intensifies ambient temperature problems by making body heat dissipation more difficult. Freking says cattle sweat very little - so the primary mechanism they have to remove internal heat is by breathing the warm air out of their body - which is easier to do in lower humidity.
Slobbering, heavy panting, open mouth breathing and lack of coordination are all signs of heat stress. Freking says overheating can be prevented under most management conditions - including access to cool water and mineral supplements. Agricultural Educator Nathan Anderson says extra watering troughs could definitely help manage heat stress - as cattle will scatter over a larger area into smaller groups when there are extra troughs. Anderson says producers should also check water sources frequently and have a back-up plan to ensure water availability in each pasture - along with access to shade and air circulation.