It is going to get really hot next week, so I thought I would send out a reminder and some tips for helping cattle deal with heat stress.
- Put some more water stations in the pen if possible. A stock tank put over the fence and filled with water several times a day will help the cattle stay hydrated when all are trying to drink at once. I have one producer who uses stock tanks with round bale feeders bolted inside to keep the cattle from climbing into the tanks.
- If you sprinkle, make sure to do enough to get the cattle wet. A light misting will only raise the humidity in the pen and make the situation much worse.
- Make a wet area in the pen where the cattle can go to dissipate heat and lay down, with either the water truck or sprinklers.
- Using a thin layer of bedding (straw or stalks) helps cool the pen surface temperature so the cattle can dissipate heat. The pen surface can get several degrees hotter than the ambient temperature.
- HydroLac, which is basically ‘Gatorade in a pellet’, has been shown to reduce heat stress in feedlot and dairy cattle and helps them stay on feed. Use it at 0.25# per head per day during the heat event. Of course, a 50 lb bag will treat 200 head.
- Fat, black-hided cattle are much more susceptible to dying from heat stress than other cattle, so if you are forced to use limited resources to help the feedlot get through this, focus on these animals first.
Most importantly, be proactive! If the cattle get to heatstroke stage, their organs start shutting down and nothing can save them.