Temperatures across South Dakota have climbed into the 90s in the last week, and producers should be alert for signs of heat stress.

This is especially true in feedlot cattle, said South Dakota Cooperative Extension Veterinarian Russ Daly.

“Producers need to monitor weather conditions, both temperature and humidity, closely and start interventions early in the day, well before noon,” Daly said. “By the time the high temperature is reached for the day, it will be difficult to cool off animals adequately.”

Daly said warm, humid nights may not allow cattle to cool down sufficiently from the afternoon heat, making signs of heat stress appear earlier the next day.

Jim Krantz, a South Dakota Cooperative Extension livestock educator from Miner County, said considering recent history with heat, producers should consider heat-stress mitigation steps now.

“Heat stress is one of those conditions that occurs almost every summer, and its impact on livestock varies based on genetic makeup, health status, stage of production and previous exposure to heat,” Krantz said. “Together, these factors can become deadly, when the combination of temperature, humidity, wind speed and cloud cover result in extreme environmental conditions.”

Daly said to watch cattle early for signs such as panting or open-mouthed breathing. These are indications that heat stress is occurring and interventions should take place.

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