As Heat Rises, Cows 'Are Just Dropping'

'I've never seen anything like it,' Iowa farmer says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2023 1:08 PM CDT
Heat Has Been Killing Hundreds of Cows on US Farms
Farmers say some cows, especially larger animals, just can't deal with the heat.   (Getty Images/PamWalker68)

The summer heat has been deadly for hundreds of cows in Iowa and other states in the Midwest. Iowa officials say that on the last day of July, the world's hottest month on record, they received a request to dispose of almost 400 cows that had died from the heat, Reuters reports. Gary Vetter tells the news agency that more than 50 cows died at his neighbors' feedlots in late July despite efforts to protect the herd. "They just start dropping and there was nothing you could really do about it," Vetter says. "I've never seen anything like it."

Cows have also been dying in Kansas, though not on the same scale as last year, when thousands died after temperatures spiked. Bob Noble, president of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, says two of his cows died in late July, the first heat-related cattle deaths he has had in years. "They just couldn't handle the extra stress of the heat and humidity," he says. Farmers have been trying to counter the heat by erecting shade structures for their animals and spraying them with water, KGAN reports.

Farmers are also turning to high-tech solutions, including apps that forecast how comfortable animals will be in the heat. Chip Redmond, a meteorologist at Kansas State University, helped develop a new tool that gives a seven-day forecast, taking humidity and wind into account as well as temperature, the AP reports. Experts say innovations will help farmers deal with the effects of climate change, but they will face major financial challenges from installing fans and other equipment—and paying for the "insane" amount of electricity they use. (More heat wave stories.)

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