Producers should make plans before and after a heat wave to help cattle recover from heat stress.
The recent heat incidents influenced the expiration of at least 2,000 head of cattle in South Dakota. While the mortalities are tangible examples of the devastation extreme heat and humidity can cause, assisting the recovery of cattle that did not perish is critical, says Tyler Melroe, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension livestock educator.
Melroe urges producers who have incurred losses above normal, to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices as soon as possible. Before cattle are buried, composted or rendered; FSA will need to have the numbers of dead cattle verified by means required by the FSA office. Producers should inquire about the Livestock Indemnity Program.
Cattle that survived the heat need special attention, says Melroe.
"Feed intakes will have dramatically declined over the past week as we experienced the extreme heat. Even though the extreme weather has left us, warm summer days appear to still be in the forecast," says Melroe. "It is important that we bring their intakes back up slowly to readapt cattle and recover from previous heat load."
Ben Holland, SDSU Extension beef cattle specialist, notes, "Producers should be cautious as they approach pre-heat intake levels. In the meantime, top-dressed hay can be used to temper aggression at the bunk."
Producers should also be conscientious in continuing some of the precautions they were taking prior to and during the heat stress period.
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