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Heat stressing California livestock

California officials say extreme heat during June and early July is blamed for thousands of dairy cattle deaths.

California Department of Food and Agriculture spokesman Jay Van Rein tells Brownfield they had several days last month with temperatures greater than 100 degrees, but it’s the long-term heat waves that caused most problems.  “The scenario you watch out for isn’t the individual heat wave, but the repeated heat waves back-to-back or very long not only to you get heat during the day or during successive days, but you don’t get significant cooling overnight.”

Van Rein says California’s central valley is expecting temperatures higher than 100 degrees this weekend and into next week, but they’ve seen worse.  So far, Van Rein says the impact on livestock has been less than some other years.  “Our dairymen are accustomed to this as well as our other farmers and for the most part, we’ve been able to ride this out, but it’s early yet.”  He says they’ve definitely seen worse conditions before.  “We have had, just anecdotally reports of additional losses in livestock, particularly in dairies, but not in the extreme… not to the extent that we’ve seen in previous hot summers during the drought where we had back-to-back heat waves or prolonged heat waves where we didn’t get cooling overnight and that sort of thing.  That’s kind of the nightmare scenario.”

Van Rein says county offices keep track of livestock losses, and so far, there’s no disaster declaration in the works.  Fresno County alone reported close to 6-thousand dairy cattle died in June because of the heat.  He says several poultry producers are also losing birds because of heat stress.

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