This past summer temperatures spiked close to +30 C here at the farm. While many don’t consider that hot compared to other areas of Alberta, across Canada, or the world; cattle thrive quite well in hot conditions.
Different breeds of cattle are better suited for hotter environments over others. The cattle we raise on our farm are better suited for cold climates since we do not have hot temperatures over long periods of time. Our cattle lose their “winter coat,” long thick hair that keeps them warm in the winter, and have a nice sleek coat of short, thin hair in the summer.
Our cattle are out on lush green pasture all summer long. While they are grazing, we provide them with an unlimited supply of cool, fresh water available in troughs for them to drink. The average 1200 lb cow will drink approximately 50L a day and can drink double that on a hot day! Imagine consuming 100L of water in 1 day?!
While the cattle are grazing on pasture, they also need shelter to help them keep cool. All our pastures have treed areas in them where the cattle gather on hot days. Cattle will also gather in coulees, on hilltops to catch breezes on hot days, and will even go wading in dugouts or waterways.
Keeping cattle stress-free on hot days also helps keep them cool. When it is very hot out, we try not to work or move them to another pasture. Sometimes this cannot be avoided, and then we move them in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler out. Transporting cattle when it’s extremely hot out can also cause a lot of stress, so again if we have to transport them it is in the early morning or evening.
While we do not deal with extreme heat in Alberta, like they do in other parts of the world, keeping the cattle cool during heat waves is another way farmers and ranchers help and care for their animals.