Tips for dealing with heat stress in cattle

The National Weather Service has issued warnings of extreme heat through Friday July 5 with temperatures of 110 to 115 degrees forecast in the heat-wave2-360x300Central Valley.  The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) has issued guidelines for dairy producers about preventing heat stress in the livestock and getting their mortalities picked up.

Recommendations for dealing with heat stress:

* The best tools are adequate and accessible drinking water, shade and water-cooling.
* Dairy producers should be sure that they can milk, water and cool their cows, even in the event of rolling blackouts or power failure.
* Many producers have back-up generators for their milking parlor, which should be inspected to ensure operational condition. Emergency power should also be available for fans and well pumps.
* Misters, soakers and fans should be checked to ensure they are operational.
* Shade structures (especially shade cloths) should be in good repair.
* When wetting the animals use large droplets (150 micron diameter sprinklers) not a fine mist, and wet the animals to the hide to saturate the hair for maximum cooling effect. The water should run off the animals.
* In general, working cattle should be avoided except in the early morning.

The Emergency Animal Disposal Workgroup (EADW) has developed guidelines related to carcass disposal during times of increased mortality.

* Monthly agreements facilitate pick-ups, as does calling early.
* Accurate counts of carcasses assist renderers with route planning.
* Old carcasses can slow the rendering process, creating a bottleneck effect.
Keeping mortality pick-up moving smoothly is particularly important to producers in the Central Valley, who have no legal method of disposing of carcasses on the dairy facility. If producers are experiencing difficulties or delays in having dead animals picked up by rendering companies, they should immediately contact their local office of emergency services or office of environmental health and make them aware of situation. Local officials are in a position to assist with alternate methods of disposal, including evaluating the need for a declaration of a local emergency.

On-line resources for heat stress:

Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle - - University of Arkansas

How to Reduce Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle - - University of Nebraska

Coping With Summer Heat - - Kansas State University 

Prepare Now for Dairy Heat Stress Season

Dairy Feeding and Management Decision During Heat Stress - - North Carolina State University

Posted: June 7, 2013