Oklahoma Ranchers Working To Keep Cattle Safe From Heat Wave


Thursday, June 16th 2022, 9:25 pm


MAYES COUNTY, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma ranchers are trying to keep their cattle healthy during this hot weather.

State leaders in Kansas reported thousands of head of cattle died there because of extreme heat and humidity.

Colten Barnes said his livestock is his livelihood, so when hot weather rolls around Mayes County, he keeps a close eye on the forecast and his herd.

Barnes is facing a brutal bout of summer heat and humidity.

"You can feel the heat coming off this grass and especially on humid days it's just an oven out here, really," said Barnes.

Barnes said wind and shade help a lot.

"If we can, feed them early in the morning while their body temps down," said Barnes. "Keep the flies off of them. They'll burn a lot of energy trying to keep the flies off themselves."

Barnes' cattle have heat stress mineral tubs and access to ponds.

"If you don't have a good bank where they can get in and out of the water pretty easily or have fresh water, they can get caught in the mud," said Barnes.

Barnes is on the lookout for excessive panting or labored breathing, lots of saliva, and restless or lethargic behavior.

"Some of the black cows and angus type cattle don't handle the heat necessarily as well, but the wranglers kind of struggle in the wintertime so there's a trade off with the breeds and the genetics," said Barnes.

He said feed and stock yards struggle because they lack access to ponds and trees, and often, those folks use misting systems and big cattle shades.

"The cattle proximity is another thing. You know if you jam them up together pretty tight there's just not much room for air flow," said Barnes.

Barnes said it's hard to keep weight on the cattle during the summer because they don't want to eat as much in the heat, and they walk it off.

This impacts the profits at his butcher shop because weight equals dollars.

He said for those who don't have access to good clean water, the NRCS and FSA have incentive programs for ranchers through the government to put in fresh water tanks.