We are learning more about what caused the massive cattle deaths in Kansas last week, with thousands dead in the Southwest part of the state.

It was not just the fact that triple-digit heat took over the Plains for four days, but the timing of that heat. USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey explains.

"When changes come suddenly and unexpectedly, that can still result in mass casualty events for livestock. There was a lack of overnight cooling along with very little wind, so calm conditions, and unusually high humidity levels."

Rippey says some of the cattle still had part of their winter coats, too. Cattle are usually among the most adaptable livestock, but the suddenness of the temperature change was too much.

And as we move toward the heart of the summer, we will likely see more of that heat.

Here are some ways to help your livestock stay cool: give each animal at least two inches of linear water trough space and try to space them out; more feeding time to the late afternoon or evening, as this will increase their lung capacity during the hot daytime temperatures; try to get more airflow into the pens by removing any unessential barriers and create more mounds for elevation toward the wind, and cool off the ground by setting up sprinklers well in advance of heat stress to give livestock a chance to get used to them.

 

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