Summertime in Florida is just around the corner, and residents can count on two facts over the next few months: It’s going to be rainy, and it’s going to be hot. Unfortunately for ranchers, the high heat and humidity associated with a Florida summer are less than ideal conditions for cattle. If not properly managed, the cattle can easily succumb to heat stress. A number of negative effects can result from heat stress in cattle, including lower weight gains, reduced breeding efficiency, and, in severe cases, the death of the animal. However, with timely intervention on the part of the rancher, this can be spotted early and abated in the affected animals. Below are a few tips to help your cattle beat the summer heat.
One of the greatest tools in mitigating heat stress is water. Water has a high specific heat, which refers to how much heat energy it takes to raise the temperature of the water. Keeping your cattle hydrated means there is more water available in their system to help maintain a normal body temperature. This is especially important as current research suggests that temperature relates to the brain centers that control consumption. And when your cattle are not eating, they are not gaining weight.
To help make sure your cattle are getting the most from their water, you should try to protect water sources from heat. Any above-ground water lines should be protected by either shade or tall grass. Monitor water temperatures in troughs throughout the summer, and make adjustments when necessary. And remember, as the ambient temperature rises, the amount of water needed for adequate hydration increases as well.
If your cattle are purely grass-fed, you will need to take this into consideration. Whatever your cattle are eating, allowing for smaller portions more frequently can help alleviate body heat issues.
Above all, monitor your herds for any warning signs of heat stress. Cattle will stand up to help dissipate heat from more surface area on their body. This means if you see cattle lying down in high heat circumstances, you should take immediate action. With your help, your cattle can make it safely through a hot, humid Florida summer.
This article is sponsored by Labor Solutions, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of Central Florida Ag News or of its advertisers.
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Arcadia, and Plant City. You also can visit his Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch online at www.DH-LR.com. A cattle rancher and citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.