The extreme heat and humidity is taking a toll on Missouri’s farmers and ranchers – leading to increased livestock selloffs and slaughter.
Daniel Mallory is a livestock specialist for MU Extension. He said that if you are struggling with the heat, so are the cattle.
“The temperature that animals become stressed at is actually a lot lower at 65 degrees for dairy cattle,” according to Mallory. “You have to think of an animal that’s anywhere from 14 to 1,800 pounds that has a room in the size of a 55-gallon drum that, while its digesting that food its creating more heat as well.”
Mallory reminds farmers and ranchers that as the temperature increases, so does the water consumption. He said that during this weather, livestock will reduce their food intake.
“Which is going to affect rate of gain on cattle, so how much those animals are consuming and then how fast they’re growing as well,” Mallory said. “That’s why we see somewhat of a summer slump. There’s a couple of things that go into that with maybe some of the types of forages they are eating that may have an adverse effect.”
There’s the heat stress on the livestock and there’s also the severe drought conditions Missouri has had to contend with. That has led to poor crop and hay conditions, forcing farmers and ranchers to sell off or slaughter their livestock.
“Especially in the pockets that were in a D-3 drought and that haven’t received a whole lot of rain this year,” according to Elizabeth Picking, Field Specialist in Livestock for MU Extension.
They’re absolutely having to do a lot of culling because our corn is not growing like we want it to. We just don’t have the grass. They’re having to make some hard decisions and get rid of animals that typically would stay in the herd and that tare good producers, but they just don’t have the forage to keep them going.”
For the livestock who are left, the extreme heat has also resulted in decreased production because of heat stress.
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