Summer might be the perfect season for many things – backyard barbecues, pool parties, neighborhood get-togethers and so much more! Summer, however, is not a cow’s favorite season. In fact, cattle prefer the air temperature to be around 40-65 degrees. Anything above this range can cause the cattle to overheat and go into heat stress. With the inability to sweat very effectively, cattle need some help with regulating their body temperature, more so than other animals.
So how do we avoid heat stress and help the cattle in the field remain cool? Great question! Here are some ways we try to keep cattle cool in the summer heat:
- Access to water. Cattle need access to water to stay hydrated and to stay cool. Each cow drinks 30-50 gallons of water per day. This is equal to a full bathtub! Not only do cows need to drink a lot, but if there is a pond nearby, the cattle will get into the water to help keep their body temperature down.
- Shade. Much like humans, cattle benefit from adequate amounts of shade. Whether it’s from trees or a shelter, the shade will help the cows from spending hours on end in the sun, and give them a chance to help try to regulate their body temperature.
- Reducing grazing. When a heatwave is coming, ranchers try to avoid moving their cattle around as much as possible. Ranchers try to work their cattle earlier in the morning before the air temperature warms up too much.
- Adequately cooled/vented shelter. If ranchers have a barn the cattle hang out in, many times it has a cooling system of some kind and will have adequate air flow through it. This allows the cattle to stay in the shade and stay cool.
Cattle thrive in cooler weather, but that doesn’t mean they can’t survive in the summer. With a little help from water, shade and proper planning, the cows can stay cool and do their jobs as effectively as ever.