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Mitigating Summer Heat Stress on Cattle

Updated: May 29

Cattle wearing virtual fence collars graze forages
Cattle wearing virtual fence collars graze forages

The month of June welcomes the warm summer weather, which can place heat stress on cattle and forages. These issues can be lessened this summer grazing season through practical mitigation measures and utilizing agricultural technologies, such as virtual fencing.

Heat places stress on the cattle through the hot temperature and high humidity’s impact on the milk production of females. Aside from the obvious measures of providing adequate shade and enough drinking water, cow-calf producers can minimize stress in cattle by handling them less. In rotational grazing systems, handling cattle often can increase their stress, which can increase the effects of heat stress. It is best to make cattle rotation a low handling, low stress situation, particularly if cattle are being rotated daily.

This low stress handling environment can be created through utilizing a virtual fencing system. Cattle can be moved virtually with the dual-sided stimulation of the collars to reduce the added stress of human handling. This allows them to move in a slower, more natural way than traditional rotational methods would require.

The sweltering summer weather can also have effects on summer forage, depending on if producers are feeding warm-season or cool-season grasses. Despite this, high temperatures during the day and night can lessen the growth of plants as they try to restore their nutrients and recover. During periods of drought, this issue worsens as plants have less access to water resources, which fuels their regrowth and recovery after being grazed. Grasses need 3-4 inches of stand left after being grazed to properly recover before the next grazing cycle.

The optimal grazing stand can be maintained in a rotational grazing system with a virtual fencing system to ensure areas of the pasture are not being overgrazed or under grazed. Producers can precisely manage this through viewing the heat map provided by Corral’s virtual fencing system. With this heat map ranchers can view where cattle have and have not grazed. Producers can then create custom cross-fences through virtual fencing collars that are based off GPS coordinates, no matter where cattle are in the pasture. Cattle are then contained to the areas that need grazed to encourage further pasture productivity.

Are you starting to prepare for summer 2024 grazing on your cow-calf operation and looking for more ways to mitigate the effects of heat stress on your cattle and forages? Sign up for Corral Technologies’ 2024 Preorder Program.

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