Livestock need shade, water when temps rise

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I know it has been a cool spring but it looks like we may go straight from cool to 70 and 80-degree days, so I would like to give a little reminder about heat stress in livestock. According to information from UK, dairy cows can see decreases in milk production as a result of heat stress at temperatures as low as 72 degrees F and a relative humidity of 45 percent while beef cattle begin to show signs of heat stress at 77 degrees F. Heat stress has a large impact on animal health and can significantly decrease animal performance.
Heat stress can significantly decrease animal performance and production. The reproductive system is affected in multiple ways. Cows often show decreased conception rates, decreased duration and intensity of estrus, decreased calf birth weight, and increased early embryo mortality when experiencing heat stress. Milk production and beef cattle gains are also considerably decreased.  Heat stressed cattle spend less time grazing and consume less feed, which partially explains the reduction in performance.
Allowing cattle access to shade and cool water at all times is vital. Cattle grazing endophyte infected tall fescue can experience more intense heat stress.  The endophyte produces compounds, which can cause an animal’s blood flow to be constricted, which reduces the animal’s ability to dissipate body heat. The rough hair coat and failure to shed winter coats are common symptoms of fescue toxicity. Body temperature and respiration rates are increased in effected animals. Taking steps to reduce fescue toxicity, such as taking livestock off fescue infected fields during the hot months, can also help reduce the severity of heat stress in the herd. Supplying shade and cool water is necessary to reduce heat stress. Another option is to turn cattle out only at night onto pastures without shade. Reducing heat stress in the herd will increase animal performance and overall profitability.
I hope we don’t have as hot a summer as last year, but if we do, now is the time to start thinking about how we will manage our livestock during excessive heat.
UK Extension is offering a MarketReady Training Program for producers and processors interested in selling anything to restaurants, grocers, wholesalers, and food service institutions. The MarketReady program will provide producers with a professional marketing education to improve sales relationships and get you up to speed with the latest local food programs. This national program, developed by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, will provide you with the tools for business success. Meet buyers, KDA (KY Department of Agriculture) staff, KCARD (KY Center for Agriculture and Rural Development) staff and others. The one-day training program will be offered April 17, at the Fayette County Extension office and April 19, at the Lee County Extension Office. Registration cost is $25, which includes class materials and lunch. Call the Marion County Extension office for more information and to register. Space is limited so register early.
The Marion County Cattlemen’s Association will hold its April Meeting tomorrow, April 11, at 7 p.m. at Floral Hall at the fairgrounds. Details of the Cattlemen’s scholarship will be discussed and applications will be available. This scholarship is available to any student whose parent or guardian is a member of the Cattlemen’s association. Students who are junior members can apply regardless of whether their parents or guardian are members.
Details of the Cattlemen’s trip planned for this September will also be discussed. Please call the extension office by 11 a.m. tomorrow to let them know you will be attending.
The University of Kentucky’s first 2013 Grazing School will be April 17-18 at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton. Grazing is the most cost-effective way for producers to feed ruminant animals. Each year, the University of Kentucky - College of Agriculture hosts two installments of the Kentucky Grazing School to help producers become better managers of their grazing systems.
The Grazing School will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. Cost of the program is $50, which includes materials, breaks and lunch both days. For more information or to register for the Kentucky Grazing School, contact the extension office.
The Washington County Livestock Center will hold a graded sheep and goat sale on Saturday, April 13. After that, starting in May, they will have a sale on the third Saturday of each month. Sheep and goats of all sizes and ages will be sold. Livestock must be at the stockyard by 11 a.m. on the day of the sale for grading and the sale will begin at 1 p.m. For more information, call the extension office or the Livestock Center.
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