Beef Buzz News
Unusual Heat Conditions in Southwestern Kansas Result in Feedlot Cattle Deaths
Thu, 16 Jun 2022 09:22:22 CDT
After extreme heat and humidity, coupled with no wind in southwestern Kansas this past weekend, reports show significant cattle loss in feedlots. Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, talks about the unusual event with Vice President for Communications with the Kansas Livestock Association, Scarlett Hagins.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Scarlett Hagins about Extreme Heat's Toll on Cattle Health
"Unfortunately, it was kind of a unique weather event over the weekend," Hagins said. "That Friday leading into Saturday, they saw a pretty rapid increase in temperature of about 10-14 degrees, almost overnight increase, in temperature."
No wind and high humidity plus lows of 70 degrees overnight, Hagins said, made it difficult for cattle to release their heat load.
"All of that combined in a short amount of time led to some heat stress issues in those cattle," Hagins said. "They didn't have time to acclimate during that short amount of time, and like I said, unfortunately, it did cause some heat stress issues."
In the western counties of Kansas, Hagins said cattle are accustomed to the heat, but not humidity. The quick increase in temperature and abnormal humidity last weekend, she added, was an unfortunate combination.
"Cattle don't handle humidity as well in a shortchange," Hagins said. "They can acclimate to almost anything if you give them a little time, but that rapid increase in humidity really impacts them pretty harshly, and they are not used to that in that portion of the state."
Another thing cattle in western and southwestern Kansas are accustomed to, Hagins said, is wind. With no wind this weekend, it made it increasingly difficult for those cattle to cool off.
While the Kansas Livestock Association cannot disclose any numbers, indications from feedlot consultants and some of the media reports from places such as DTN and Drovers show that up to 10,000 head of cattle died over this last weekend because of the heat.
According to a report from Reuters, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment knew of at least 2,000 cattle deaths due to high temperatures and humidity as of Tuesday, spokesperson Matthew Lara said. The toll represents facilities that contacted the agency for help disposing of carcasses, he said.
Extension Veterinarian Dr. A.J. Tarpoff with Kansas State University said that early to mid-June is often a time we will historically start to see problems with heat stress. Many of the issues, Tarpoff said, have to do with the hair coat. Cattle can adapt to almost any environment on Earth, but they need time.
At this point in the season, many cattle have not fully shed that hair coat and slicked it off. The majority of the U.S. cow herd is black-hided, which also means they can't cool as efficiently. As a result, the death loss from heat buildup happened in big numbers this last weekend in southwestern Kansas.
Over in northwestern Oklahoma and the Oklahoma panhandle, cattle feeders did not face the same weather conditions primarily because the winds stayed up.
Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays and Scarlett Hagins talk about the significant cattle loss in southwestern and western Kansas due to extreme heat.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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