Heat and Cattle Comfort

With the shrill sound of cicadas pulsing around me, I began my walk along the path through the trees. Here it was Friday night in Ardmore. The day to follow was a full day devoted to beef cattle production at the 2014 Southern Plains Beef Symposium. This was a beautiful evening. It was hot and humid, yet it was a pleasant warmth. The grass was green and soils moist from recent rains.

As I walked, the sweat began to flow. Two miles and forty minutes later, I was warm, wet from perspiration, yet not fatigued, not overcome by the heat. At the end of my walk, close to 8:00 pm, the human Heat Index also referred to as the Apparent Temperature from the Newport Mesonet site was 87°F. That’s important because while I was sweating, I was still comfortable. Warm, yet far from being overcome by the heat. For me, when the Apparent Temperature gets into the upper 90s, I have to slow down and take it easy or suffer from the heat.

2014 08 10.Newport Air Temp graph

[Full Site: mesonet.org / Weather / Station Meteograms]
[App: Local / upper left corner "zig-zag" icon]

Maybe the Cattle Comfort Index on the Oklahoma Mesonet only comes to mind as a tool to avoid the extremes, either hot or cold. But if you check it more often and compare it back to how your cattle are reacting, you can learn what comfort range works for them. How do your different breeds of cattle react to the same heat level? You’ll learn when to take action and when all is well, even if the Cattle Comfort range is higher or lower than you would like.

The Cattle Comfort Advisor provides Minimum and Maximum maps that show today’s forecasted highs and lows, and the high and low Cattle Comfort Index values over the state for the next two days.

2014 08 08.Cattle Comfort menu

[Full site: mesonet.org / Agriculture / Cattle Comfort]

Yesterday’s Maps include a Minimum, Maximum and Average. In the summer, the Minimum Cattle Comfort map is a quick way to check if the Cattle Comfort Index has dropped below 75°F. When night time Cattle Comfort values go below 75°F there is typically sufficient cooling that cattle can recover from daytime heating.

2014 08 07.Coolest Cattle Comfort Index

[Full site: mesonet.org / Agriculture / Cattle Comfort / Statewide Maps / Yesterday / Minimum]

Cattle can handle a single hot day and night, but multiple days with high daytime and nighttime temperatures create a cumulative stress in cattle. More heat susceptible cattle, sensitive breeds, ones that are young, older, or less healthy, will be most effected by multiple days with high heat stress conditions.

2014 08 07.Warmest Cattle Comfort Index

[Full site: mesonet.org / Agriculture / Cattle Comfort / Statewide Maps / Yesterday / Maximum]

The Past 10 Days and Forecast graph or table is a way to check the daytime highs and nightime lows. It includes a forecast for up to the next 84 hours, so you can see if a stressful time will begin, continue or end.

2014 07 27.Stillwater.Cattle Comfort 10-day

[Full site: mesonet.org / Agriculture / Cattle Comfort / Local Mesonet Site / Stillwater / Past 10 Days and Forecast]

Everyday we another chance to learn about how weather impacts plants and animals that are a part of agricultural production. What a wonderful opportunity!

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