Minimizing Heat Stress in Beef Cattle

Minimizing Heat Stress in Beef Cattle

Ropin’ the Web

Soaring summer temperatures not only affect humans, but cattle as well. Heat stress is hard on livestock, especially in combination with high humidity.

Heat stress is defined as any combination of temperature, humidity, radiation and wind producing conditions higher than the animal’s thermal neutral zone. The upper limit of which is the so called upper critical temperature. Beef cattle cool themselves primarily through a combination of respiratory tract (most important) and skin evaporative loss (sweating).

Heat stress occurs when the body temperature is elevated due to excessive heat production or high ambient temperatures, or reduced heat loss. High temperatures (above 28°C (82°F)) coupled with high humidity can cause heat stress in cattle, which can lead to a reduced breeding efficiency, milk production, feed intake, and weight gains. In the worst case, heat stress may increase the chance of illness and may even cause death.

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