When most people think of living/farming in Iowa they picture the cold Winter. We’re ‘lucky’ here, in that we seem to have the potential for both brutal Winters AND wicked Summers. Right now, we’re in the midst of a true Iowa heat wave. It’s a running joke that experienced farmers will tell you ‘the heat isn’t that bad, it’s the humidity,’ and they’d be right!
It’s not enough to watch the forecast for the temperature when it comes to cattle, especially our cold weather loving Highlands. Recently, I stumbled up on the USDA’s heat stress forecast maps. These take into account not only the forecasted temperature, but also humidity, wind speed, and cloud cover and gauge the risk for heat stress in our animals.
Today, we’re in the DANGER zone and have taken a few additional measures to help protect our Highlands from heat stress. We’re monitoring our animals closely, and already have them in our pasture with ample access to shade while they graze. Air flow is good and our waterer can easily keep up with an increase in consumption by our herd. We also make sure to feed our steer (the only one currently on feed) during the coolest parts of the day, to avoid the extra heat generated by his rumen processing feed. On extra hot days, we also have a sprinkler we set up in the pasture that can be rotated to various shady areas. Our cattle LOVE IT!
Some may argue we spoil our animals, but taking the best care of them we can is the only way. Fingers crossed for a break in this heat wave soon, so we can get back to watching the calves frolic in the sunshine!