TOP STORIES Heatwave days kill thousands of cattle in Kansas

Heatwave days kill thousands of cattle in Kansas

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Kansas officials say the weather made it difficult for the cows to cool off in the intense heat. Here, cattle graze near wind turbines in Hayes, Kansas, in 2017.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kansas officials say the weather made it difficult for the cows to cool off in the intense heat. Here, cattle graze near wind turbines in Hayes, Kansas, in 2017.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The heatwave that baked Kansas over the weekend is being blamed for the deaths of thousands of cattle, losses documented in startling photos on social media.

“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is aware of at least 2,000 bovine deaths that have occurred in southwestern Kansas,” Matt Lara, director of communications at the agency, told NPR Thursday.

Lara also confirmed that the conditions make it “difficult for the cows to stay cool”.

AT widespread video footage, showing rows of carcasses lined up along the edge of a farm field. State officials are blaming the heat wave that pushed temperatures above 100 degrees.

The new losses come as the farmers of the Great Plains region are already trying to cope with drought and strong winds, as well as an increased threat of forest fires.

Difficult to understand the scale of the deaths

The data from the state health and environment agency only reflect losses on farms that have asked for help disposing of the carcasses, suggesting the actual numbers could be higher.

A spokesman for the Kansas Department of Agriculture confirmed to NPR Thursday that “a combination of several weather factors has resulted in heat stress for cattle, which has impacted cattle producers.”

But the spokesman also noted that livestock farms are not required to report these losses, “so we don’t have data on the extent of the impact.”

Hazardous weather conditions are not limited to any one county in Kansas where beef cattle are raised. dominates agriculturemaking it one of the major cattle producing states in the US.

Nearly all of the western half of Kansas is now classified as abnormally dry or arid. US Drought Monitor Web site.

Thermal explosion from less than 80 degrees to more than 104

To get an idea of ​​what the animals were dealing with, it’s helpful to look at the recent weather reversal effect.

Last week the temperature in Kansas jumped sharply, exceeding 100 degrees. A heatwave hit Haskell County in the southwest. In recent years, it has been Kansas’ top ranching county with 385,000 head of cattle. reported in 2021.

In Haskell County, the heat soared from a mild 79.9 degrees on June 9 to a scorching 101.1 degrees just two days later. This was followed by three more days of triple-digit highs that topped 104 degrees, according to meteorological data from Kansas State University.

Conditions at Haskell also became very dry, with relative humidity falling from nearly 80% to less than 24%, and no precipitation for seven days. The heat was inevitable: even four inches below the soil surface, the temperature reached almost 92 degrees.

The cost of the animals was estimated at about $2,000 each.

“It’s a significant impact,” Scarlett Hagins of the Kansas Livestock Association tells a local television station. KAKEadding that the market value of each animal would be about $2,000.

“Any loss of animals is of great importance to the producer, to the fattener, to the rancher. Nobody wants to see such losses,” she said.

Industry website AH daily lists ways cattle producers can reduce the risk to their animals, from providing enough water, space, and shade to watching for signs of heat stress, such as sticking out the tongue and panting.

“Fat cattle, those who still have some of their summer wool, and cattle that have had respiratory illnesses are the most susceptible to heat stress,” the website says.

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