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Three Steps to Manage Heat Stress in Beef Cattle

Three Steps to Manage Heat Stress in Beef Cattle

Three Steps to Manage Heat Stress in Beef Cattle

The full swing of summer will bring high temperatures, high humidity, and high chances of heat stress. Heat stress is a major concern in the beef industry, causing countless problems in cattle, such as a decrease in feed intake, diminished digestibility, and a significant negative impact on performance.

High temperatures can cause cattle to reduce feed intake, which can negatively affect production. Cattle have greater energy needs and less energy available, which adds up to a significant in loss of performance. Some common symptoms we tend to see are increased respiration (panting) and increased circulation. The time is now to act in your feedlot.

Here are three steps you can take to manage heat stress:

Animal Comfort

Water – Water requirements for beef cattle increase during summer months. Because cattle lose more water due to perspiration and increased respiration, extra water tanks may be needed. Keep water cool and clean to encourage your animals to consume more, as drinking cold water is one of the quickest ways to control and reduce body temperature. Another good idea is to wet down pen surfaces. If you don’t have access to a sprinkler, laying down a light-colored bedding- such as straw or corn stover – can help to decrease pen floor temperatures.

Air Flow/Shade – Increasing airflow can help cattle cope with extreme heat. Remove wind barriers such as equipment, weeds, hay bales, and tall vegetation. Keep in mind, cattle that are near harvest are more susceptible to heat stress. They may need to be moved to pens with better airflow. Also, make sure you are providing proper shade, especially for dark-hided cattle.

Flies – Flies can be a huge hassle for both pasture and feedlot cattle. Biting flies can cause cattle to congregate in one area, which will reduce airflow. If cattle have to swat at flies, that’s extra energy being used and heat that’s produced. Take action by removing fly breeding areas and considering the use of other technologies to help reduce fly populations.

Diet Changes

Be sure to adjust cattle diets to help decrease heat of fermentation. Pull cattle back a bit on what is beingBeef cattle eating ration offered to them. Lowering the energy content of the diet may lower the heat load on cattle. Consult with your nutritionist for best practices and guidance. When it comes to diet changes, it’s also important to incorporate a digestive and immune support feed additive. Some digestive and immune support products can help stabilize the rumen, enhance microbiome populations, support gut integrity, and maintain intake and digestion – providing more available energy to the animal. Feeding a product like this continuously through the summer months can help support cattle health and performance.

Throughout hot summer months, feed intake is likely to drop off at the bunk. Providing tubs that contain a fermentation-based feed additive like the one mentioned above allows these animals to get simple sugars and nutrients, as well as digestive and immune support, thereby encouraging consistent intake and ideal digestibility.

Plan Ahead

The last tip is to plan ahead. Don’t wait until the heat of summer is here. Starting planning – now. Figure out what management strategies you plan to employ and which products you are going to use. As we know, heat hits differently in different parts of the country. The Cattle Temperature Humidity Index Chart will help to determine the risk level as summer heat approaches.

As temperatures continue to rise, so do concerns regarding cattle. Heat stress can lead to reduced intake, decreased digestibility, and diminished performance. By following the three steps listed above, cattle feeders can help increase livability, and continuously support health and performance.