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Helping Cattle Handle The Heat

Northwest Iowa — A wave of hot temperatures has washed over northwest Iowa this week, and as temperatures rise, so does the level of concern among area livestock producers.

Dr. Grant Dewell is a veterinarian with the Iowa State University Beef Center, and he says the biggest keys to keeping cattle comfortable is plenty of shade and large amounts of drinking water.

Farmers are also advised to use fans and sprinkle cattle with water if the animals are showing signs of heat stress. According to Dewell, cattle in Iowa fair pretty well when temperatures are below 90-degrees. But the forecast is calling for hot temperatures in the area for most days through the middle of next week.

He says the cows intolerance for hot weather stems from the climate in the areas of the world from which their breeds originate.

There have been no reports of cattle deaths in Iowa due to heat in many years. In the summer of 2011, beef producers in five states reported nearly 20,000 cattle deaths due to an extended period of extreme heat and humidity. According to the Iowa Beef Industry Council, there are more than 3.8 million cows on farms across the state. Iowa is ranked 9th in the country in terms of beef cow production and 12th in dairy cows.

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