Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
July 8, 1999

Cattle React To Hot Weather

The extremely hot weather temperatures are indicated by the reaction of many cattle grazing throughout Missouri and surrounding states. This is especially true for cattle grazing Fescue containing the Endophyte Fungus.

Body temperatures of cattle tend to rise due to the influence of the fungus causing vaso constriction of the blood vessels throughout the body. This constriction reduces the ability to transport and remove body heat. It is not uncommon to find body temperatures ranging as high as 106 degrees F in cattle grazing highly Endophyte-infected Fescue when the outside air temperature exceeds 85 degrees. Other symptoms include reduced feed intake, lower weight gains, decreased milk production, higher respiration rates, more time spent in the shade and less time grazing, excessive salivation, and reduced reproductive performance.

One simple observation is cattle standing in any water supply that is available. This may be ponds or damp areas under shade created by continuous standing and frequent urination.

Cattle tending to retain winter hair appear to be affected more by this environmental condition compared to individuals that have a slick hair appearance.

Producer decisions can have a positive effect on the management decisions throughout the hot summer days. One point to remember is if it becomes necessary to move the cattle during this time, select a cooler day or move in the late evening or early morning. If the movement involves from one grazing area to another let the cattle move themselves simply by opening the gates when they are grazing in the area. Letting the cattle drift through will reduce the stress on the individuals that are affected more by this problem. If it is necessary to transport cattle that have been grazing under these conditions move them to the load out area prior to the scheduled loading even if this means supplementing feed. This technique will assist in reducing the potential for death losses due to grazing under stressful environmental conditions.

Plan your grazing management so that grazing areas are available throughout the hot summer months that contain other forage species. This is where the dilution of the fescue forage by the addition of legumes pays off. Another management tool is to add a supplementation of some type. This may include grain supplementation or simply the addition of hay from a non-endophyte source. Any dilution of intake from fungus infected forages will definitely pay dividends through the extremely hot weather. If you planned your grazing areas and completed the interseeding of some legumes and managed your fertility application this spring, you will see dividends throughout these hot months. Make sure an ample supply of water is available at all times and is located were livestock won’t have to travel long distances for water.

Keep in mind that Fescue is a valuable crop throughout the fall, winter and spring when managed properly. However, it does provide definite problems throughout July and August.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - July 8, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT070899.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004