Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2006. 84:712–719.


Data from 3 summer feedlot studies were utilized to determine the environmental factors that influence heat stress in cattle and also to determine wind speed (WSPD; m∙s-1) and solar radiation (RAD; W∙m-2) adjustments to the temperature-humidity index (THI). Visual assessments of heat stress, based on panting scores (0 = no panting to 4 = severe panting), were collected from 1400 to 1700. Mean daily WSPD, black globe temperature at 1500, and minimums for nighttime WSPD, nighttime black globe THI, and daily relative humidity were found to have the greatest influence on panting score from 1400 to 1700 (R2 = 0.61). From hourly values for THI, WSPD, and RAD, panting score was determined to equal −7.563 + (0.121 × THI) − (0.241 × WSPD) + (0.00082 × RAD) (R2 = 0.49). Using the ratio of WSPD to THI and RAD to THI (−1.992 and 0.0068 for WSPD and RAD, respectively), adjustments to the THI were derived for WSPD and RAD. On the basis of these ratios and the average hourly data for 1400 to 1700, the THI, adjusted for WSPD and RAD, equals [4.51 + THI − (1.992 × WSPD) + (0.0068 × RAD)]. Four separate cattle studies, comparable in size, type of cat- tle, and number of observations to the 3 original studies, were utilized to evaluate the accuracy of the THI equation adjusted for WSPD and RAD, and the relationship between the adjusted THI and panting score. Mean panting score derived from individual observations of black-hided cattle in these 4 studies were 1.22, 0.94, 1.32, and 2.00 vs. the predicted panting scores of 1.15, 1.17, 1.30, and 1.96, respectively. Correlations between THI and panting score in these studies ranged from r = 0.47 to 0.87. Correlations between the adjusted THI and mean panting score ranged from r = 0.64 to 0.80. These adjustments would be most appropriate to use, within a day, to predict THI during the afternoon hours using hourly data or current conditions. In addition to afternoon conditions, nighttime conditions, including minimum WSPD, minimum black globe THI, and minimum THI, were also found to influence heat stress experienced by cattle. Although knowledge of THI alone is beneficial in determining the potential for heat stress, WSPD and RAD adjustments to the THI more accurately assess animal discomfort.