Warmth stress blamed for 1000’s of cattle deaths in Kansas

1000’s of cattle in feedlots in southwestern Kansas have died of warmth stress attributable to hovering temperatures, excessive humidity and little wind in current days, trade officers stated.

The ultimate toll stays unclear, however as of Thursday at the very least 2,000 heat-related deaths had been reported to the Kansas Division of Well being and Surroundings, the state company that assists in disposing of carcasses. Company spokesman Matt Lara stated he expects that quantity to rise as extra feedlots report losses from this week’s warmth wave.

The cattle deaths have sparked unsubstantiated experiences on social media and elsewhere that one thing apart from the climate is at play, however Kansas agriculture officers stated there is no indication of every other trigger.

Heat Wave Cattle Deaths
Cattle feed at a feed lot close to Dodge Metropolis, Kansas, March 9, 2007. 1000’s of cattle in feedlots in southwestern Kansas have died of warmth stress amid hovering temperatures coupled with excessive humidity and little wind in current days, trade officers stated Thursday, June, 16, 2022.

Orlin Wagner / AP

“This was a real climate occasion — it was remoted to a particular area in southwestern Kansas,” stated A.J. Tarpoff, a cattle veterinarian with Kansas State College. “Sure, temperatures rose, however the extra essential cause why it was injurious was that we had an enormous spike in humidity … and on the similar time wind speeds really dropped considerably, which is uncommon for western Kansas.”

Final week, temperatures have been within the 70s and 80s, however on Saturday they spiked increased than 100 levels, stated Scarlett Hagins, spokeswoman for the Kansas Livestock Affiliation.

“And it was that sudden change that did not enable the cattle to acclimate that brought about the warmth stress points in them,” she stated.

The deaths symbolize an enormous financial loss as a result of the animals, which generally weigh round 1,500 kilos, are value round $2,000 per head, Hagins stated. Federal catastrophe applications will assist some producers who incurred a loss, she added.

And the worst could also be over. Nighttime temperatures have been cooler and — so long as there’s a breeze — the animals are in a position to get better, Tarpoff stated.

Hagins stated heat-related deaths within the trade are uncommon as a result of ranchers take precautions resembling offering further ingesting water, altering feeding schedules so animals should not digesting throughout the warmth of the day, and utilizing sprinkler techniques to chill them down.

“Warmth stress is all the time a priority this time of yr for cattle and they also have mitigation protocols put in place to be ready for this type of factor,” she stated.

Many cattle had nonetheless not shed their winter coats when the heatwave struck.

“It is a one in 10-year, 20-year kind occasion. This isn’t a traditional occasion,” stated Brandon Depenbusch, operator of the Modern Livestock Companies feedlot in Nice Bend, Kansas. “This can be very irregular, but it surely does occur.”

Whereas his feedlot had “zero issues,” he famous that his a part of the state didn’t have the identical mixture of excessive temperatures, excessive humidity, low winds and no cloud cowl that hit southwestern Kansas.

Elsewhere, cattle ranchers have not been so laborious hit.

The Nebraska Division of Agriculture and the Nebraska Cattlemen stated they’ve acquired no experiences of higher-than-normal cattle deaths within the state, regardless of a warmth index of nicely over 100 levels this week.

Oklahoma Metropolis Nationwide Stockyards President Kelli Payne stated no cattle deaths have been reported since temperatures topped 90 levels final Saturday, after rising from the mid 70s beginning June 1.

“We have now water and sprinklers right here to assist mitigate warmth and the warmth wave,” Payne stated, however “we haven’t any management over that pesky Mom Nature.”

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