Keeping cattle cool in the heat

In extreme heat, it's important to keep cattle and livestock cool to avoid heat stress.

With temperatures looking to pass the 100 degree mark in the next few days, most of us are planning to beat the heat by staying close to the air conditioning.

But as much of the state is under a heat advisory, it's not just humans feeling the heat, it's the animals. More than any other animal, cattle rely on respiration more than sweating to keep cool when it gets this hot, and water consumption doubles in high heat.

"They drink a lot more," said Danielle Smith, showing her cattle at the Jefferson County Fair this weekend.

"They drink a lot and we bring them a lot more... we bring them buckets more often," said Josie Lagle, also showing. "They eat quite a bit too when it's pretty hot."

The Iowa Cattlemen's Association recommends shifting to feeding a higher percentage in the afternoon and lowering the energy content by five percent. It's also important to provide shade and bathe cattle when they show signs of heat stress.

"We keep them cool by bathing them," Smith said. "I bathe mine three times a day."

"We usually try to keep fans on them and don't bring them out too much and don't water their body, water their feet so they don't get overheated," said Blu Schultz. "Their feet, the blood is closer to the top and if you put it on their body, they'll think they need to put much more sweat to cool down faster."

When temperature, wind speed, humidity and solar radiation are at certain levels, there is a risk for heat stress. Cattle will be in danger of heat stress until at least Friday, and farmers are urged to check on their livestock frequently and make sure they're comfortable.