Know the signs of heat stress in cattle so that you can take action to protect the animals’ health and your profits.

In our last blog, we shared information on preventing cattle heat stress, which can have negative impacts on animal health and thus your operation’s bottom line. Since most summer days present the temperature and humidity combinations that create dangerous levels of heat stress in cattle, Florida cattle producers must be vigilant about the signs of heat stress in their herd. See them below.

Symptoms of Heat Stress in Cattle

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources article maintained that “compromised animals are at higher risk for heat stress. Those animals that are sick or lame are usually running higher temperatures than normal (average temperature for a beef animal is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit), combined with hot temperature and high humidity raises their risk of heat stress.”

A UF/IFAS blog shared these signs of heat stress in cattle:

  • “Crowding under shade or trees or in ponds or around water troughs.”
  • “Cattle may also begin to salivate more.”
  • “Exhibit open-mouthed or rapid breathing…For moderate stress the cow will take 80-120 breaths per minute, increased or strong stress levels would be 120-160 breaths per minute and may include panting or open mouth breathing, and severe stress would be over 160 breaths per minute with open mouth panting and protruding tongue.”
  • “A decrease in their appetite… The further their appetite decreases the more they must utilize their stored energy. This can lead to a decrease in body condition, rate of gain and milk production.”

The UF/IFAS blog added that “Heat stress has also been shown to decrease breeding efficiency.  Often times you will notice a decrease in the cycling of cattle and reduced conception rates.  In extremely severe cases heat stress can cause death.”

See our next blog on what to do if your cattle are suffering from heat stress.

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