Summer heat means livestock owners need to develop drought plans for animals

Summer heat is crucial for farmers’ crop growth, but drought is a real worry and stress for farmers and cattle.

Dr. Derrell Peel, a livestock market economist with Oklahoma State University Extension, says that hoping for the best is a risky strategy. He states that checking hay inventories and pasture growth before a drought can help farmers decide when to implement a drought plan that can keep cows fed.

“Supplemental feed can work. One of the things that may be an advantage in this drought... is that forage and hay may get short, but we’ve got very abundant feed grain supplies,” Dr. Peel said. “So, you can do a lot with some limit feeding, stretching limited forage, and if you don’t wait until you are completely out, you can make a little bit go a lot father with some sort of supplemental feeding program.”

Some cattle, such as heifers and finisher steers, are at higher risk for heat stress than others.

A.J. Tarpoff with Kansas State University says that humidity, color of the hide, solar radiation, and diet can drastically change a cows ability to withstand summer sun.

To keep cows cool: only ship them during the morning, feed 70 percent in the evening when it cools down, make sure they get lots of water, space them out, and use sprinklers.