Ok, folks, things are heating up again. As we jollying around out of the silly season into the new challenges area and new resolutions… think about this.
Imagine yourself wearing a big fluffy coat under the scorching sun. That’s kind of how cattle feel during heat stress! It’s basically when their bodies get too hot and they struggle to cool down, just like you would in that big coat.
We see more and more homesteads popping up around Dayboro, and I prefer them above the little boxes on the hillside. Not everybody is aware of what heat and the combination with moisture means for animals.
As I expand my virtual herd, I figured I might put up some information about heat stress, which is different than heat index. I have written about how it is calculated on this page. (Read More about HeatStress)
What’s the ideal temperature for cattle?
Cattle, unlike us, prefer cooler temperatures – think between 5°C and 25°C. Anything above that puts them at risk.
Why do cattle struggle with heat?
Unlike dogs and humans who sweat a lot to cool down, cattle sweat mainly through their hooves and muzzles. This isn’t very efficient, so they have to rely on other methods like panting and standing in the shade.
What are the signs of heat stress in cattle?
Look out for these clues:
- Heavy panting: Like a dog after a run, cattle will breathe fast and shallowly to try and cool down.
- Drooling: Their mouths will hang open with lots of drool dripping out. (Bit like hubby when watching footy)
- Sluggishness: They’ll stand around more, seeming less interested in grazing or playing. The typical stand I have when I am about to start mowing.
- Reduced appetite: They might eat less or stop eating altogether.
- Increased body temperature: If you have a thermometer, their normal temperature is around 38°C. In heat stress, it can go up to 40°C or even higher.
What happens if cattle get too hot?
Heat stress can have serious consequences for cattle, like:
- Reduced milk production: Dairy cows will produce less milk.
- Slower growth: Calves won’t grow as quickly as they should.
- Reproductive problems: Cows might have difficulty getting pregnant.
- Organ damage: In extreme cases, heat stress can even lead to death.
What can we do to help cattle during heatwaves?
Here are some things farmers can do:
- Provide plenty of shade: Trees, shelters, or even makeshift shade structures can make a big difference.
- Ensure access to clean water: Cattle need to drink more water when it’s hot to stay hydrated.
- Avoid handling them during the hottest part of the day: Moving around makes them even hotter.
- Use sprinklers or misters: Adding some moisture to the air can help them cool down.
Ultimately, heat stress is a serious problem for cattle, but by understanding the signs and taking preventive measures, farmers can help their animals stay healthy and productive even during hot weather.