At Least 2K Cattle Die When Kansas Heat Spikes

'This is a one in 10-year, 20-year type event'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 17, 2022 12:07 AM CDT
At Least 2K Cattle Die When Kansas Heat Spikes
Cattle feed at a feed lot near Dodge City, Kan., March 9, 2007.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

(Newser) – Thousands of cattle in feedlots in southwestern Kansas have died of heat stress due to soaring temperatures, high humidity, and little wind in recent days, industry officials said. The final toll remains unclear, but as of Thursday at least 2,000 heat-related deaths had been reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the state agency that assists in disposing of carcasses. Agency spokesman Matt Lara said he expects that number to rise as more feedlots report losses from this week’s heat wave, the AP reports. The cattle deaths have sparked unsubstantiated reports on social media and elsewhere that something besides the weather is at play, but Kansas agriculture officials said there’s no indication of any other cause.

Last week, temperatures were in the 70s and 80s, but on Saturday they spiked higher than 100 degrees, said Scarlett Hagins, spokeswoman for the Kansas Livestock Association. “And it was that sudden change that didn't allow the cattle to acclimate that caused the heat stress issues in them,” she said. Many cattle had still not shed their winter coats when the heatwave struck. The deaths represent a huge economic loss because the animals, which typically weigh around 1,500 pounds, are worth around $2,000 per head, Hagins said. Federal disaster programs will help some producers who incurred a loss, she added. And the worst may be over. Nighttime temperatures have been cooler and as long as there is a breeze the animals are able to recover, Tarpoff said. “This is a one in 10-year, 20-year type event,” said Brandon Depenbusch, operator of the Innovative Livestock Services feedlot. (Read more cattle stories.)

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