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Saturday, July 2, 2022

In Kansas, thousands of cattle died due to scorching heat, moisture

BELLE PLAIN, Kansas ( Associated Press) – Rising temperatures, high humidity and low wind have killed thousands of cattle in feedlots in southwestern Kansas in recent days, industry officials said.

The final toll is unclear, but at least 2,000 heat-related deaths were reported as of Thursday, according to the Department of Health and Environment, the state agency that assists with the disposal of bodies. Agency spokesman Matt Lara said he expects that number to rise as more feedlots report damage from this week’s heat wave.

The cattle deaths have sparked unfounded news on social media and elsewhere that something other than the weather was going on, but Kansas agriculture officials said there was no sign of any other cause.

“It was a true weather event—it was isolated to a specific area in southwestern Kansas,” said AJ Tarpoff, a veterinary veterinarian at Kansas State University. “Yes, the temperature increased, but the more important reason it was damaging is that we had a huge increase in humidity … and also the wind speed actually dropped quite a bit, which is rare for western Kansas.”

Last week, temperatures were in the 70s and 80s, but on Saturday they soared more than 100 degrees, said Scarlett Huggins, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Livestock Association.

“And it was this sudden change that didn’t allow the cattle to get used to that caused them to have problems with heat stress,” she said.

Heggins said the deaths represented a major economic loss because the animals, which typically weigh about 1,500 pounds, cost about $2,000 per person. He said federal disaster programs would help some growers who have suffered.

And the worst could be over. Tarpoff said the nighttime temperatures have been cool and that as long as the wind blows – the animals are fine.

Heggins said heat-related deaths are rare in the industry as ranchers take precautions such as providing additional drinking water, altering feeding schedules so that animals do not digest during the heat of the day, and sprinkler systems to cool them. be able to use

“Heat stress is always a concern for cattle at this time of year and so they have mitigation protocols in place to be prepared for this sort of thing,” she said.

Many cattle still had not taken off their winter coats when the heat wave struck.

“This is one of the 10-year, 20-year type of event. It is not a common occurrence,” said Brandon Depenbush, operator of the Innovative Livestock Services feedlot in Great Bend, Kansas. “It is extremely unusual, but it would have happened. Is.”

While there were “zero problems” in his feedlot, he said his part of the state had high temperatures, high humidity, low winds and no cloud cover in southwestern Kansas.

Elsewhere, cattle ranchers have not been hit so hard.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Nebraska Cattle said they have received no reports of higher-than-normal cattle deaths in the state this week, despite a heat index of over 100 degrees.

Oklahoma City National Stockyards President Kelly Payne said no cattle deaths have been reported since temperatures topped 90 degrees last Saturday after rising from the mid-70s beginning June 1.

“We have water and sprinklers to help reduce heat and heat wave, but we have no control over that pesky Mother Nature,” Payne said.

World Nation News Desk
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