Warm weather requires water, shade for cattle

April 28, 2015
Contact Information:

Dave Edmark, Division of Agriculture Communications
479-575-6940 / dedmark@uark.edu

Fast Facts:

• Prevent overheating of livestock by providing adequate water and shade
• Adhere to good grazing management practices
• Plan where to put shade on the farm

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The cool spring will soon give way to warmer weather that can take its toll on cattle. Cattle that graze endophyte-infected tall rescue can be affected by poor body temperature regulation and overheating even in moderate temperatures.

Dirk Philipp, assistant professor of animal science at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, advised producers to alleviate heat stress and keep cattle productive by taking a few steps.

Providing clean and adequate water is essential. A water line is the best option, but a pond is also a good choice if its structure is protected by making only certain areas accessible. “In either case, calculate so that each animal is provided with sufficient amounts of drinking water every day as this is the chief component for regulating body temperature,” Philipp said.

Shade is also important where it can be provided. Although cattle with access to shade will probably spend less time grazing, Philipp noted that they perform better if their body temperatures stay in the optimum range. Trees in the pasture or by the fence line are sources of shade. Custom-built shade structures can be used as a management tool to keep animals away from sensitive areas such as streams and riparian buffers. They can also serve as wind breaks in winter.

Philipp reminded producers to be diligent in grazing management. “During extremely hot days, don’t ‘push’ your animals but rather stock them on areas of your farm that will provide some cooling to them,” he said, “or even let them temporarily into a pond if signs of heat stress appear.” They should be removed from the pond if temperatures cool to a point that they are more likely to graze longer without constantly seeking shade.

Producers need to plan where to put the shade on their farm. Besides leaving trees in place, producers can also move portable shade structures frequently to avoid mud build-up and trampled forage. Moving shade structures to areas of low fertility will over time transfer nutrients there via cattle feces.

For more information about cattle, visit www.uaex.edu or contact your county extension office.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.