Dangerous for both humans and livestock alike, injuries, illness, and loss resulting from heat stress causes financial and even emotional strain on farmers. Livestock affected by heat stress can disrupt animal production and performance creating significant loss in profits and additional expenses for care, treatment, and recovery.
Heat stress prevention is the key to reduce livestock loss and injury and maximize production. The Kestrel Agriculture line gives you accurate, micro-climate weather data you can rely on to make critical management decisions to increase yield, reduce losses, and boost profit across your entire agriculture or ranch operation.
The Impact of Livestock Heat Stress
Extreme environment temperatures and/or humidity can be detrimental to livestock in several ways, including those in utero, leading to illness, injury, and mortality.
Dangers of Heat Stress in Utero
When female cows become overheated to the point of heat stress, it can result in a lower birth weight for the calf and shorter gestation lengths. Heat stress is the most detrimental for cows in the last three months of pregnancy. The complications occurring in utero can possibly carry into a minimum of two future generations.
Low birth weight can continue through weaning and puberty, leading to a weakened immune system. This is also true for other livestock, such as pigs or sheep. Animals with weakened immune systems typically face more health issues in their lifetime and have a shortened life span.
Impact on Milk Production
Heat stress in the cow or heifer impacts how nutrients and oxygen are sent to the fetus. Shorter and fattier cows with high insulin levels will have a lowered ability to process insulin. As this process also produces glucose more rapidly, the first lactation milk will be the most deficient. However, this deficiency may continue through the second and third lactations.
Loss of Appetite and Reduced Carcass Quality
Most animals lose their appetite when their body temperature exceeds critical thresholds, causing reduced food intake, milk yield, growth, and weight gain. Carcass quality for animals such as beef cattle will diminish as their body begins to decline from heat stress.
Prone to Health Issues
Medical problems can quickly arise in heat stress situations, including lameness from disruption of the digestive process, impaired immunity, mastitis, decreased fertility, and in the worst cases, rapid death.
Preventing Heat Stress in Livestock
The good news is that there are several ways you can help avoid livestock heat stress.
- Make sure the livestock has a shaded area when the sun becomes intensely hot
- Keep fresh water available to animals at all times
- Keep an eye on the heat index. Heat indexesin the 90s and 100sare the most cause for concern
- Look for early warning signs of heat stress in livestock including open-mouth breathing (panting), slobbering, and loss of coordination
Using Kestrel Weather Meters for Further Prevention
Devices such as Kestrel DROP D2AG Livestock Heat Stress Monitor, Kestrel 5400AG Heat Stress Tracker, and Kestrel 5000AG Livestock Environmental Meter provides you with critically accurate measurements, so you can determine unfavorable conditions for livestock.
The DROP D2 is easy to hang in areas including livestock pens, barns, and transport carriers. It measures all of the necessary elements to prevent heat stress, including temperature, relative humidity, dew point temperature, and Temperature Humidity Index (THI). See, save and share data from multiple DROPs with just one phone or tablet. Store thousands of data points and get months of logging on a single coin-cell battery as well as customize logging rate, connections, and alerts.
The Kestrel 5000AG is a must-have tool for anyone involved with livestock production. This pocket-sized, rugged, accurate meter offers 13 critical weather measurements - temperature, relative humidity, Heat Stress Index, dew point, THI, wind speed, wind chill, wet bulb temperature, station pressure, barometric pressure, altitude, density altitude, and volume airflow. The 5000AG is everything you need for environmental assessments to confirm livestock level air speeds, areas of high moisture, ventilation effectiveness, micro-climate temperatures, livestock heat stress, and more.
The Kestrel 5400 Cattle Heat Stress Tracker offers micro-climate measurement and monitoring at the pen or yard location. Contains a built-in Globe Temperature sensor and complete cattle-specific calculations. Measure THI and HLI and track AHLU based on easy-to-input herd and pen parameters. Perform spot checks or mount in place with the included vane mount accessory to track AHLU for months.
You can also view data from the DROP D2, 5000AG, and 5400AG wirelessly via Bluetooth on your phone or tablet with the free Kestrel LiNK app. All data can be shared and exported from the app, making any connections on how it affected your livestock.