Heat Stress Model Keeps Cows Cool
March 17, 2008
It's hard to relax if your cattle are
stressed, so the ability to predict and avoid potential stressors is essential.
Fortunately, an online model developed by scientists with the Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) provides
information to help cattleand producerskeep their cool when
temperatures rise. ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
For years, producers relied on the National Weather Service for livestock
weather warnings. When that service was discontinued in the mid-1990s, many
producers turned to university websites. The university warnings, like those
they'd replaced, were based on temperature and humidity predictions, but did
not account for other influential factors.
Elevated temperature is obviously the driving force behind dangerous heat
levels, but other parameterssuch as humidity, sun intensity and wind
speedare influential as well. The ARS model, developed by
Eigenberg at the agency's
L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., considers
all four parameters in its calculations.
The model, which is updated twice daily, makes predictions for South Dakota,
Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, western Colorado and northern
Texas. It analyzes weather forecast information, assesses the danger of
incurring heat stress and displays that information as a color-coded map, which
can be viewed at:
Ranchers and other cattle managers can consult the map to gauge the heat
threat level in their region. More than 200 visitors used this site during the
critical heat stress months of July and August in 2007.