Overheated herds

This year’s higher than average summer temperatures have highlighted a growing animal welfare issue for the US livestock industry, and it is one that will prove equally relevant for Australia’s farmers as we head into warmer weather. Cattle prefer a cool climate, and suffer heat stress when they become too hot. If symptoms of the animals’ discomfort go unrecognised, a dairy cow’s milk production and fertility can be affected, while the result for intensively farmed beef cattle may be growth and weight loss, which leads to reduced meat production.

As some of the physiological responses to excessive heat are experienced internally by cows, and therefore less likely to be noticed until the animals are severely affected, livestock researchers from the University of Arizona, led by dairy specialist Robert Collier, have developed a vaginal sensor that can measure a cow’s core body temperature, and a leg sensor able to determine whether the cow had been sitting or standing. Continue reading Overheated herds