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Using Feedlots to Protect Against Heat Stress

11 August 2008

US - Heat stress can cause loss of feedlot cattle worth millions of dollars, said Tami Brown-Brandl, agricultural engineer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat Animal Research Center near Clay Center, Neb.

Thousands of cattle can die during a single regional heat event, Brandl said. Even if a producer only sees that kind of loss every five years or so, it can be devastating to that operation, reports the High Plains Journal.

According to the High Plains Journal, the most important time to watch for heat stress is a period of two nights or more in a row with low temperatures at or above 70 degrees, Brandl said. When nights don't cool, it's doubly important to pay attention to daytime temperature. Days without cloud cover and very little wind increase heat stress.

For a map showing regional stress conditions, go to www.usmarc.usda.gov and click on cattle heat stress in the left menu bar.

Based upon studies, cattle with dark hides, black or dark red, suffer the most from heat, Brandl said. Animals with a history of health problems, particularly pneumonia, are especially vulnerable, as are fat cattle that are nearly ready to be shipped. Producers should also monitor new animals just coming into the feedlot. Excitable animals are also a bit more likely to suffer heat stress.

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