Stressful Temperature Swings Impact Beef Cattle

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According to The Weather Channel, the high yesterday (10/30) in Danbury will be around 80 degrees. While that alone is somewhat odd, it is compounded by the fact that the high temperature for today (10/31) is 49 degrees. This 30 degree temperature swing will certainly impact people; however, this event will be extremely stressful for livestock as well.

Research published in 2020 indicates what may cattle producers already know: cold weather and large temperature fluctuations tend to increase respiratory illnesses in cattle. The study, which took place in the Texas Panhandle and evaluated feedlot cattle for around 3 years, concluded that a higher daily temperature range during winter months was linked to increased respiratory illness. Incidence of respiratory diseases also generally increased during the winter months throughout the study.

Compounding stress during excessive weather swings should be avoided. Holding off on stressful events such as weaning, hauling, vaccinating, and castrating/dehorning until weather stabilizes is advisable.

Overall, preventing respiratory illnesses is best accomplished by combining proper nutrition and vaccination protocols. If you’re unsure on the nutritional status of your herd, body condition scoring is a great place to start. The importance of working with a veterinarian to the develop the correct vaccination protocol can not be understated. If you need help developing a feeding plan or locating a veterinarian, contact our office at 336-593-8179.

Written By

Kendra Phipps, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionKendra PhippsExtension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock & Field Crops Call Kendra Email Kendra N.C. Cooperative Extension, Watauga County Center
Updated on Oct 31, 2023
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