By BARBARA ADDISON, LEHISA DE FORMOZA, and DAVID COLTRAIN
With plenty of summer left to go, soaring temperatures and humidity can take a toll on cattle, resulting in everything from reduced rates of gain to death loss.
"Cattle will adapt to heat if it happens gradually, but that's often not the case," said Kansas State University veterinarian Larry Hollis, citing the quick, wide temperature and humidity swings that can happen in the central High Plains.
"USDA has information, including forecast maps that show geographically, where it expects the heat to cause problems," said Hollis, who is a beef cattle veterinarian with K-State Research and Extension.
The website takes into account weather parameters that influence livestock comfort or stress, including temperature, wind speed, humidity and solar radiation. The site also includes a breathing equation that producers, feedlot managers and others can use to evaluate their animals.
"Cattle don't have the ability to sweat like we do," Hollis said. "Instead they'll start panting."
The USDA site has information to help producers gauge cattle heat stress by how many breaths an animal will take per minute. If an animal is taking less than 90 breaths per minute, the rate is considered "normal." A rate of 90 to 110 breaths per minute indicates "alert," 110 to 130 indicates "danger" and above 130 breaths per minute indicates "emergency."
"If you see them in the morning and they're already over 100 breaths per minute, you know it will likely get worse as the day goes on," Hollis said.
Beef cattle extension specialist Terry Mader and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln also have developed information that can be helpful to cattle producers. The Extension publication is titled "Managing Feedlot Heat Stress."
"We can't control the temperature or humidity, but we can control some things," Hollis said, as he outlined several steps.
* Provide cool drinking water. There is a difference between water heated by the sun all day and cool water.
* Make sure there is ample space around the drinking source, so cattle don't bunch up as they are accessing the water.
* Provide shade — whether it is moving animals to a different pasture with more trees or stretching a screen over pens.
* Remove anything that impedes airflow. Do not pen cattle near windbreaks.
Mow weeds if they are tall enough to function as a windbreak. If there are mounds, cattle will use them to try to catch a breeze.
* Control flies. Cattle will come together to help each other deflect flies but air circulation is impeded when they bunch up, so controlling flies helps with controlling heat stress.
* If handling cattle, do it early in the day. Have all work done by 10 a.m.
* Where possible, use sprinklers, but do not use mist. Mist raises humidity, which adds to stress. Instead, use a system that dispenses large droplets.
"Some operations have what looks like large water cannons and some fire departments will come out and help soak the cattle," Hollis said. He noted, however, that fire equipment, and powerful hoses can be extremely frightening to the animals.
"If you're going to put water on them, do it right or don't do it," he said, adding that the goal is to soak the cattle, not lightly mist.
"At the end of the day, cattle that are not alive don't do us much good. When we have performance losses, that's one thing, but when your animals don't survive, that's not a good situation at all," Hollis said.
Source: Mary Lou Peter and Dr. Larry Hollis, K-State Research & Extension
New county Extension agents
The Finney County K-State Research & Extension Office will have a come-and-go welcome reception for Lehisa de Fornoza, the new family and consumer science agent, and David Coltrain, the new agricultural and natural resources agent, from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St. The public is invited to take the opportunity to meet and welcome Lehisa and David as new agents to the Finney County community. Refreshments will be served.
K-State Research and Extension in Finney County gives local residents easy access to the resources and expertise of K-State University. Through educational programs, publications and events, Extension agents deliver unbiased, research-based information to Finney County citizens. Extension agents can answer questions on a wide array of topics. To find out how we can help you, browse our site or contact us by email or phone.
The Finney County Fair is approaching fast and that means it is time for the judging of 4-H Clothing Construction, Buymanship and the 4-H Fashion Revue. This is an excellent opportunity for 4-H members in clothing and fashion revue projects to have their projects judged and exhibit their work. Judging for the Finney County 4-H Clothing Construction and Fashion Revue will be held July 16 at the Finney County Fairgrounds — 4-H Building, starting at 8 am.
This year, we will have teams of judges who will be judging the participant on topics including but not limited to value of investment, quality, cost effectiveness and care requirements. Participants are also encouraged to model their garment before a judge; this will involve walking, and areas to be judged include self-confidence, eye contact and pride.
4-H Public Fashion Revue
Finney County 4-H members will have the opportunity to walk the runway at the Finney County 4-H Fashion Revue Public Show. The revue is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 16 at the Clarion Inn/Samy's Spirits and Steakhouse Ballroom, 1911 E. Kansas Ave.
The public is invited to attend the 4-H Fashion Revue and support the 4-H girls and boys participating in the show.
Finney County Fair Pet Show
If you are a youth or adult, then plan to participate in the fun Finney County Fair Pet Show on July 20 at the Finney County Fairgrounds — 4-H Building. The 4-H Pet Show judging starts at 9 a.m., with 4-H classes, with the open class youth and adults immediately following. Entries will be taken the day of the event.
All pets are eligible — dog, cat, hamster, bird, rabbit, etc. All animals need to be leashed or caged while attending.
There will be ribbons awarded with premium ribbon money awarded by the fair.
Plan to show off your knowledge and your pet at the Finney County Fair Pet Show. Information is available in the 2013 Fair Book available at the Extension office or at www.finneycountyfair.org.
Finney County Fair 4-H Turtle Races
The 4-H Ambassadors are sponsoring Turtle Races on July 24, starting at 4 p.m. at the Livestock Show Arena at the fairgrounds.
Guidelines for entries include: Youth need to be age 5 to 18 to enter. Turtles for the races are Box Turtles only. Registration will be from 3 to 3:45 p.m.
The Turtle Races are open to any youth. Join the 4-H Turtle Races for a fun time.
Start now in finding your Box Turtle. Other guidelines for the races are available at the Finney County Extension Office, or at www.finney.ksu.edu.