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Farmers in the Ozarks explain how they tackle the heat for their cattle

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 9:04 PM CDT
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MILLER, Mo. (KY3) - Thousands of cattle died in Kansas recently, making farmers nervous about the widespread heat we’re seeing.

Traves Merrick, a cattle rancher in Miller, said his cattle are built to last.

“I think the last few summers we’ve had have gotten the cattle naturally built up for it here,” said Merrick.

In June, Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials said at least 2,000 cattle died, and Merrick said he agrees with state officials in that it was a freak heat wave.

“Some of those cattle could very well have not had time to acclimate from a cool, wet climate into the hot, humid, and dry like I think it was there,” said Merrick

Merrick said the combination of no winds, intense heat, and new climates for cattle is to blame, and he says even this year, the weather has been a burden.

“We went from basically spring months to the first of August, like it feels like right now,” said Merrick.

Merrick said he has automatic water sources, ponds, creeks, barns, and more to combat the high heat.

“Pasture rotation has been key to fighting the heat these last few years, making sure that the cattle in pastures with lots of shade at the right time of year,” said Merrick.

Merrick said you have to be proactive in making shade for all the cattle and having a plan with many of his trees being planted strategically so his cattle can have a great place for shade, especially in the future.

“We kind of put them up against those areas where there really wasn’t anything to stop the wind,” said Merrick. “It kind of works both ways with the shade there.”

In saying both ways, Merrick said the trees he planted in a field stop the wind in the wintertime and have shade in the summer. Merrick said those trees saved baby calves during the frigid temperatures.

The cattle rancher also said he breeds his cows to have a lighter coat and provides food that gets their blood flowing, so they are better in extreme heat.

“Farmers around here really do a good job of protecting our livestock from any kind of elements, predators, anything, and this is this is no different,” said Merrick. “This is just one of the many challenges that we’re faced with every year.”

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