Farmers across the Midwest are using everything from electric fans to cold showers to keep their livestock from wilting in the oppressive heat, which is blamed for killing at least 1,200 head of cattle in Nebraska.
TOLEDO, Ohio Farmers across the Midwest are using everything from electric fans to cold showers to keep their livestock from wilting in the oppressive heat, which is blamed for killing at least 1,200 head of cattle in Nebraska.
Tracy Swank, who raises sheep near Toledo, said she has been opening more barn doors to increase air flow and filling more troughs and buckets with water.
"Animals are pretty resilient. They'll adjust, but you still have to give them plenty of water and provide some shade," she said.
The blistering heat wave brought stifling humidity and temperatures in the 90s Tuesday on the East Coast, but a cold front brought some relief to the West and parts of the Midwest after days of triple-digit heat index readings.
The heat wave already has been blamed for many deaths across the country, including 28 in the Phoenix area alone, most of them homeless people.
Oppressive heat also posed health risks for animals. In northeast Nebraska, hundreds of cattle died over the weekend when the humidity reached 90 percent and temperatures stayed warm into the night.
Roxanne Bergman, president of the Northeast Nebraska Rendering and Bergman Inc., in Clearwater, said her business has collected about 1,250 head of dead cattle.
"And we're still picking up," Bergman said Tuesday. "I thought today it would slow down and we could catch our breath, but we've had a lot of calls."
One producer lost 200 head of cattle, she said. She estimated that losses to cattle producers in the area would be in the millions of dollars.
Veterinarians and livestock experts say keeping plenty of fresh water on hand is a must when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. They also say it's better not to exercise animals during warm weather and allow them to rest as much as they need.
Clark Emmons, a dairy farmer from Fayette near the Ohio-Michigan state line, figures he's losing about $350 per day because his cows are making about 10 pounds less milk per day, down from their usual 90 pounds a day. Plus, there's the extra cost of running more fans in the barn and providing more water.
"Cows sweat just like people do," he said. "Moving air makes them feel colder."
Keith Kemp, a hog breeder from West Manchester in western Ohio, said his animals handle the heat much better than they did years ago because the pigs are now bred with less back fat.
Some hog farmers run mist sprayers in their barns, but he said there's plenty of ventilation to cool off his pigs.
"It's harder on the people than it is the hogs."
Source: Associated Press