Recognizing Heat Stress in Beef Cattle: Part 1 of 3
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.