Although he’s not seen much of it yet, Dr. Buzz Iliff, an Illinois veterinarian, concedes that there are more cows spontaneously aborting calves in this heat. Depending on how long a cow has been bred, Iliff says the likelihood increases with the temperature. Preventing it depends caring for the animal.
“Watch you vaccination program, have the bulls semen checked if you’re using bulls, make sure your semen’s good if you’re [artificially inseminating] and then just keeping those cows comfortable with enough shade, water and forage so that they’re as least stressed as possible,” Iliff told Brownfield Ag News Friday.
It is better to put off handling cattle on hot days because vaccines are not as effective on an animal that’s too warm, Iliff adds.
“You know when it’s this hot and you try to bang them through a chute and try to work them, they get so warm and stirred up that some of them get a pretty high cortisol level and that will negate the effects of the vaccine too, so it’s better to just keep them comfortable and wait for a cooler day,” he said.
Iliff, who practices in north central Illinois, predicts that conception rates will be “all over the board” this year.
“People who usually breed for earlier calves in January and February will probably get along a lot better than people who breed for later calves in April and May just because at this time of the year, with it so warm, a lot of the bulls can go sterile because of getting too hot, and once they do, it’s six to eight weeks before they’re good again.” said Iliff. “It takes them that long to regenerate so it could really split up the calving season.”