Extreme Heat Kills 1500 Cattle In South Dakota

US - South Dakota State Veterinarian, Dustin Oedekoven, has said that at least 1,500 head of cattle have died across South Dakota during the prolonged excessive hot spell, with temperatures routinely hitting the high 90s and sometimes topping the century mark across the state.
calendar icon 21 July 2011
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Mr Oedekoven said the extreme heat and humidity have simply overwhelmed the cattle, especially in areas where there is little or no wind. Hot, humid nights have added to the toll, he said, terming it “a recipe for disaster.”

The Daily Republic reports, that the animals are dying of heat exhaustion. Their bodies simply can’t cool down, and they die.

Normally, the industry standard is a one or two per cent fatality rate annually in a feedlot, he said. Mr Oedekoven said there have been no reports of the heat killing other livestock.

Mr Oedekoven said cattle create a great deal of heat when eating, so producers are advised to feed them at night to reduce the heat generated.

Symptoms of heat stress in animals range from mild to severe as conditions worsen.

Initially, animals will increase their respiratory rate in an attempt to cool themselves. Increased salivation and open-mouth breathing will commence, and in severe cases of heat stroke, animals will become uncoordinated, weak, and go down and not be able to rise, according to South Dakota State University.

When these latter symptoms hit, recovery is unlikely.

Some animals will likely be more severely affected than others. Producers should pay close attention to dark-hided animals, fleshy animals, or animals with histories of respiratory disease.

Heat stress symptoms peak in the early evening hours after the animal’s body attempts to regulate its temperature and fails.

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