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Tuesday, August 1 2017 7:00 AM
By Anne Burkholder

The Summer Heat

As a native Floridian, I am no stranger to hot weather. Although the last twenty years on the farm in Nebraska have taught me to deal with the never ending winds and the frigidness of winter; the month of February finds me dreaming of digging my frozen toes into the warm beach sand.  I am always thankful for the spring thaw, and the arrival of the summer heat rejuvenates me.  More than two decades on the prairie have inspired a personal appreciation and love for the changing of the seasons, but I still find that it is the warmth of summer that soothes my soul.

When April and May bring the promise of warmer days, I trade my coveralls for a hoodie and tilt my face up to the sky to drink in the warmth. The volatility of our weather on the prairie sometimes necessitates digging my winter gear out for one more snow storm in May or June; but I celebrate the day that a sun shirt is all I need to pair with my jeans for daily chores.

As humans, we change our clothing depending on the weather. A smart farmer always carries extra clothes, hats, and gloves in his/her pickup during the summer to be prepared for an unplanned dip in temperature.  Likewise, if the day starts cool, we can return these extra clothes to our back seat closet when the temperature rises. Cattle are not as fortunate, as they cannot take off their coats when Mother Nature decides to alter her course.  They naturally acclimate to changes in temperature only one degree per day.

Unlike me, bovines consider 55 degrees to be short sleeve weather and have a critical upper temperature of about 82 degrees. 

They prefer the cold, and get hot just as I get comfortable!

There are many things that we do as cattle caregivers to help our animals to deal with the summer heat. The two most important are cool, clean water to drink and wind (air flow) to relieve the effect of the heat.

Sun shades keeping cattle cool during the summer heat.

While my mind tells me that July is the “middle of summer”, it seems as though some of our warmest days occur in the first half of August. Working with our veterinarians and cattle nutritionists provides us with a higher level of savvy as we continuously work to build the knowledge and skills necessary for good animal care. Mother Nature is likely to wreak havoc with her changing weather whims but working together as a team allows us to set our animals up for success.

Look for videos and social media posts throughout the month of August explaining how we work to offer good care to our cattle during the summer heat. In the meantime, make sure that you hydrate and find some wind to keep yourself healthy during these last dog days of summer!

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Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.

Innovative Livestock Services

2006 Broadway Avenue
Great Bend, KS 67530

(620) 793-9200

4805 Vue du Lac
Manhattan, KS 66503

(785) 587-9700

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