Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 12, 2014

BEATING THE HEAT: Farmers fend off heat to protect themselves, cattle

STILLWATER, Okla. — Cattle farmers already have enough on their hands as they try to protect themselves from the hot summer months.

Then they have the cattle to think about, which are affected differently by the summer heat.

A cow’s core temperature peaks about two hours after the environmental temperature peaks, and takes four to six hours to lower to the normal temperature. So if the hottest part of the day was at 3 p.m., a cow’s core temperature would peak at about 5 p.m. and not return to normal until anywhere from 9-11 p.m.

Because of that, it’s all the more important for cattle farmers like Bill Lile to tend to livestock appropriately to avoid heat stress on the cattle. Cattle farmers are encouraged to limit cattle movement to short distances and keep them near shaded areas and those with water.

Whether Lile is tending to his cattle or working to bale hay for the livestock, he has to monitor his own health to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.

“I’m most generally out all day, but I’ll find the shade for a while to cool down,” Lile said. “And I’ll go out early in the morning and late in the evening. I try not to be out (around 3 p.m.), it depends on what I’m doing.

“I most generally stay out there until noon, come in and then go back out some time around 4 o’clock. You can tolerate it a little better.”

Lile tends to 21 cows and their calves on 80 acres of land in Stillwater, and is out in the sun a lot throughout the day. Hydration is just as key to maintaining the cattle’s health as it is his own.

“I carry plenty of water and ice in my jug,” Lile said. “I try to keep hydrated.”

Rain totals last month were extremely helpful as Stillwater saw 6.29 inches of rain in June.

The past 14 days have seen 1.37 inches in Stillwater, and it’s been a big help to farmers like Lile.

“We just got a half inch (Thursday), and it was really nice and well needed,” Lile said. “I for one really appreciate these July rains. Most generally after the Fourth (of July) you don’t get many.”

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