Minimize heat stress when working cattle

heat stress graphic

Heat and humidity are two deadly environmental cards Mother Nature deals during the dog days of summer, making it crucial for producers to be aware of the impacts heat stress can have on their cattle.

Here are some tips from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for handling cattle in the summer heat:

Only handle cattle in early mornings.

Two hours after the environmental temperature hits a daily high, cattle’s core temperatures peak—and it takes four to six hours for their core temperature to return to normal. Because of this, it is recommended to do any cattle handling in the early morning hours, before 8 a.m., and never after 10 a.m.

Make it short.

Don’t move cattle great distances. Since movement of cattle during processing will increase their core temperatures, take things slow with low-stress handling techniques. Strategic pen placements are recommended to keep heavier cattle closer to loading facilities.

Work cattle in smaller groups.

Avoid overcrowding holding pens, alleys and working facilities so cattle receive adequate air flow, water and shade. Keep groups of cattle small enough so they aren’t standing too close together. Don’t leave cattle in the holding area much longer than 30 minutes.

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