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How is Oklahoma's heat wave impacting animals?

Daily temperatures above 40 degrees increases water consumption in cattle, according to the Oklahoma State University Extension.
Todd Johnson
OSU Agricultural Communications Services
Daily temperatures above 40 degrees increases water consumption in cattle, according to the Oklahoma State University Extension.

There’s a heat advisory in effect Tuesday, and the hot weather is expected to persist. Triple-digit temperatures and warm overnight lows are expected nearly every day this week, impacting humans, animals and plants.

As people try to fend off the scorching temperatures, pet and livestock owners will need to help their four-legged friends beat the heat.

Dana Zook, Oklahoma State University extension area livestock specialist, said extreme heat leads to heat stress, which causes animals like cattle to drink more water, eat less and seek shade.

“Well, of course, right now we know cattle are going to be under some heat stress and I would say we want to avoid the significant heat stress,” Zook said.

She said that in some cases of extreme heat stress, animals will pant, and in severe situations, cattle can slobber and lack coordination.

Paul Beck, a beef cattle nutrition extension specialist at Oklahoma State University, said in temperatures around 100 degrees, people should make sure there is plenty of clean, cool water for them to drink and adequate shade and air movement.

Beck and Zook said most Oklahoma producers know what to do when it’s hot outside.

“I believe our producers, for the most part, are extremely good at what they do and takes the steps knowing that we're getting into the hot time of year,” Beck said.

There are ways to provide shade that allow heat to escape, such as using trees or a shade cloth. He said cool water is key because cattle drink more when it’s hot, and it does a better job of cooling animals from the inside out.

Zook said flies also need to be controlled because cows will bunch together to prevent being bitten, and this increases heat.

For animals in general, Zook said water is most important, and people should check on their pets more frequently when they are outside. Beck said it’s important for people to remember that if they are uncomfortable outside, chances are animals are uncomfortable, too.

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Anna Pope is a reporter covering agriculture and rural issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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