U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Published in Beef Research Program Progress Report (1993) No. 4 (Part 1): 146-148


During the period August 6 to 10, 1992, a heat wave moved through central and eastern Nebraska. Maximum air temperatures were in the 90 to 95°F range, generally not considered to be extreme during the summer season. However, during this particular episode, the accompanying humidity was higher than normal (50 to 70% during the hottest portions of the day), with light to moderate winds except on August 8 when the wind was fairly strong. The relatively cool preceding summer weather had not adequately conditioned livestock to high levels of heat stress. As a result, several hundred feedlot cattle died in this area. Generally, animals most vulnerable to heat stress are new or recent arrivals in the feedlot, or those nearing market weight. Surviving cattle experience a reduced feed intake as a result of the heat stress which affects growth and efficiency.

The described heat wave is a vivid reminder: weather is a factor that cattle producers must deal with on a daily basis. Heat or extreme cold can reduce performance, health, and/or well-being. Those effects can be compounded by precipitation, wind, or poor nutrition in cold weather and high humidity in hot weather. An article, "Weather and Climate Effects on Beef Cattle," in the 1985 U.S. Meat Animal Research Center Beef Research Progress Report No. 2 summarized some of the effects based on research observations, and discussed management alternatives for coping with adverse environments.