Cattle and Pastures Suffer Under Heat

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR--Imagine wearing a thick black coat during the hottest part of the year. You are unable to go inside and can't take the coat off as the sun bears down. Your body temperature shoots up. You need a lot of shade and gallons upon gallons of water to survive. That's the life of a black Angus cow during the summer.

"When you see cattle standing in water that normally means elevated body temperatures and they are trying to cool off," says University of Arkansas Agriculture Extension Agent Eric Grant. The tremendous heat over the last few weeks has wreaked havoc on more than the bodies of cattle. The grass normally used for grazing has begun to dry up and wither away.

"We've got producers now that already got hay put out and pastures are getting short. So, they're trying to supplement whatever pasture they got," says Grant. Farmers are encouraged to begin putting out hay in the late fall, generally around thanksgiving. With farmers putting out hay now, there could be a shortage of hay this winter.

The one thing that would greatly help, and not just the cattle producers, would be a good soaking rain. Until then, the hot and dry conditions remain. Cattle are a lot like people when it comes to the hot weather. Just like people cattle like a lot of shade and a lot of water.

"A nursing cow, if it's ninety-five degrees she's gonna consume about 20 gallons of water," says Grant. The same goes for a grown bull and cattle over 1000 pounds. Humans need to drink about 62 ounces a day! While it's not recommended jumping into a cow pond to beat the heat, you can always jump into the nearest pool for a quick dip until Region 8 cools down.