Reduce Livestock Stress in Summer

Although our spring weather has been up and down, warm summer weather is finally here in Wisconsin. With the warmer weather comes a reminder to shift our attention to livestock health and well-being related to the heat and summer pests. Dr. BJ Jones, livestock veterinarian at Center Hill Vet Clinic in Darlington shares that fly control and reducing heat stress on livestock can help keep them healthy and comfortable, and protect your operation’s bottomline.

“One of our biggest concerns, as we get into the summer in Wisconsin is fly control,” said Jones. Luckily we don’t have to battle flies year round like many southern states, but as soon as the weather is warm fly season starts. Making sure to have fly control and prevention methods in place should be a top priority of dairy, beef and other livestock producers around the state this time of year. Dr. Jones recommends at least two forms of fly control for your herd instead of relying on just one method. Products like fly ear tags, pour-on products, rubs and aerosol sprays are just a few of the ways you can help keep the flies away from your livestock.

Even though flies may be small, they can create a big impact on the health and productivity of livestock. Flies and pests can reduce the efficiency and productivity of livestock by creating stress, reducing milk production and expending unnecessary energy. Flies can also carry diseases such as pinkeye, that can spread very quickly if not managed.

The use of vaccines can help defend animals from the effects of diseases such as pinkeye in addition to reducing flies. Moraxella bovis is the most common bacteria that causes the disease, but a new emerging type of bacteria, moraxella ovoculi is starting to show up in cattle as well. To combat this, veterinarians are able to get custom vaccines for producers to ensure all types of the bacteria are covered.

Other than fly control, the raw summer heat in Wisconsin can cause problems for livestock as well. Cows are most comfortable in temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees. When it starts to reach 70 and above, they can experience significant heat stress. “The cooler we can keep them, the better,” said Jones. Ventilation systems in barns, water misters and other systems can help to mitigate the stress, as well as clean water at all times and shade or shelter for the animals. Extended heat stress can cut into productivity and profits as well, causing early embryonic death in bred cows and reduced feed efficiency and weight gain in animals on feed.

Being prepared for warmer weather can help livestock be healthy and comfortable, and remain productive. Fly control and reducing heat stress are two main factors in helping to have a stress free summer.