Just as is the case with humans, horses need to have plenty of mental stimulation in order to remain happy. In fact, a bored horse is also more prone to becoming ill and engaging in negative behavior that can lead to injury. Therefore, it is important for you to find ways to provide your horse with mental stimulation in order to prevent boredom from setting in.
Creating a safe environment for your horse is an essential part of keeping it healthy. While you may never be able to prevent every type of accident from happening, you can certainly help to reduce the likelihood while always remaining alert to potential dangers.
When caring for your horse, the type of feed that you provide is an essential part of keeping it healthy. This includes being sure to provide high-quality hay while also offering other feeding options other than hay.
As a horse owner, one of the most important things you can do to keep your horse healthy and happy is to give it ample time and opportunity to graze. Not only does grazing provide your horse with a more balanced diet, but it also helps your horse get the exercise that it needs to stay healthy.
As we continue to deal with the pandemic and stay at home orders, many are fully realizing just how important it is to be able to maintain a social life. Just as with humans, the same is true for your horse! In fact, if you want your horse to stay happy and healthy, it is absolutely essential that you find opportunity for it to enjoy a social life.
When caring for a horse, there are several steps you need to take to ensure it remains healthy. While most horse owners are fully aware that they need to make sure their horse eats properly, gets fresh water and stays safe from nasty weather elements, some may fail to recognize the importance of providing for opportunities for movement.
In addition to the many visible signs associated with heat stress in beef cattle, there are also several invisible signs and effects of heat stress. While they are not visible to the eye, wellness checks may show these signs through various forms of testing.
Some of the invisible signs of heat stress in beef cattle include:
- Indigestibility of feed
- Increased peripheral blood flow
- Increased respiratory infections
- Increased susceptibility to parasitic and non-parasitic diseases
- Loss of bicarbonates
- Loss of electrolytes
- Lower ruminal pH
- Reduced response to intercurrent diseases or pathogens
- Slowed gut and ruminal motility rates, resulting in slow passage of feed through the digestive tract
- Slowed recovery from environmental stresses
- Stress hormones in the blood
Heat stress can also affect the reproduction of beef cattle. Not only can it alter the production of the reproductive hormones that are essential for pregnancy, but it can also change the balance of developing follicles in the ovary. Embryonic development can also be affected while gene function is disturbed. Lower conception rates and lower fertility in bulls is also associated with heat stress, as are increased foetal and postnatal mortality rates.
By closely monitoring the health and the activity of your cattle, you can better ensure they are not suffering from heat stress and its negative – even possibly fatal – effects.
Different genotypes of beef cattle have different characteristics associated with their zone of comfort. Overall, Bos Indicus breeds and their crosses have a better heat regulatory capacity than Bos Taurus breeds. This is largely due to their differences in metabolic rate as well as differences in food and water consumption, their sweating rate and differences in coat characteristics and color.
Visible Signs of Heat Stress
A number of visible signs are associated with heat stress. These include:
- Decreased Activity
- Increased Drinking
- Increased Urination
- Open Mouth Breathing
- Reduced Eating
You may also notice your cattle bunching in any shaded area that is available or aligning themselves with the sun if there is no shade. Alternatively, your cattle may begin bunching around water troughs or they may refuse to lie down. On the other hand, they may become unresponsive or become agitated and restless. Slower growth rates may also occur and even death if the heat stress is allowed to continue.
If you see signs of heat stress in your cattle, it is important to take steps to help reduce the heat load so your cattle are not adversely affected. This may include providing additional shade or water or even using fans to help cool them down.
With cattle being unable to dissipate their heat load efficiently, heat stress is a serious concern for those who raise them. In this three-part series, we will explore heat stress in beef cattle further, including how to recognize it so you can give your cattle the care they need.
Since the sweating mechanism of cattle is poor, they are forced to rely on only respiration to cool themselves. To make things worse, the fermentation process within the rumen generates additional heat that cattle also need to disperse. Due to their inability to effectively get rid of heat, cattle tend to accumulate their heat load during the day and then dissipate the heat at night. Therefore, if the nights do not get sufficiently cool, cattle cannot effectively dissipate the heat at all.
In addition to the temperature, the Temperature Humidity Index also plays a role in how heated your cattle can become. The Temperature Humidity Index includes factors such as relative humidity, ambient temperature and evaporation rate. When humidity increases, the cattle’s ability to complete evapo-transpiration is reduced. This ultimately increases the core body temperature while also decreasing the animal’s feed intake.
In the next part of this three-part series, we will explore visible signs of heat stress in cattle.
In this three-part series, we have been exploring ways to keep your cattle healthy during the hot spring and summer months in Arizona. In addition to proper feeding and providing shade, you can also keep your cattle cool by choosing the right time of the day to work them and by ensuring they have the proper amount of water intake.