Keeping livestock cool in extreme heat

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jul 19, 2019

VALPARAISO, Neb. (KMTV) — With this extreme heat we have been experiencing it makes us want to crank up the AC, and while it is unpleasant for US, it can be really damaging for livestock ranchers. For animals who live outside, going inside and cooling off isn't an option.

To say it's hot outside would be an understatement. And when it gets this hot, farmers like Kurt Ohnoutka have to pay special attention to their livestock. “Cattle can take a lot of adverse weather conditions, but heat and extreme cold is really hard on them, especially the heat,” said Ohnoutka.

Ohnoutka has about 300 cows; and in this heat he checks on his cows every couple hours looking for any sign of distress. “Heavy breathing, they start slobbering at the mouth and also they open their mouth trying to get more air,” he said.

About a year ago Ohnoutka put up these shades to keep the cows cooler during the summer temperatures. “I think it's paying off in weather like this,” he said. But the shades aren't the only relief Ohnoutka provides. “We provide a lot of fresh water for them in ten-foot tanks and things like that,” he said.

Ohnoutka also cuts down their feed intake by about 25%. “We don't want the cattle going in the evening full because their digesting all the feed and creates internal heat,” he said.

But even though he's been in the business all his life, when the temps rise all he can hope for is a little shade and an extra breeze. “You know you got a lot of money invested in these cattle and farmers and ranchers are the last people that want to see cattle struggle,” said Ohnoutka.

He says he also has sprinklers he can use to cool the cows down if they are showing any sign of distress.