July 1, 2011

 

Kansas' unfavourable weather affects livestock

 

 

In addition to affecting cattle in Kansas' feedlots, the state's heat wave will be causing extra stress on farm crops and rangeland that are already fighting against drought conditions.

 

Feedlot owners and cattle producers alike are making preparations to cope with triple-digit temperatures expected across much of the state.

 

"High temperature, high humidity, low wind speed; those are the three things that really create problems for cattle in confinement," said Todd Domer, spokesman for the Kansas Livestock Association.

 

In the northeastern town of Muscotah, feedlot owner Terry Handke said the heat index for livestock is expected to reach emergency levels on Thursday (Jun 30) and on into the weekend. He lost 30 cattle the last time a major heat wave hit a couple of years ago.

 

Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday (Jun 27) that 34% of the state's rangeland was in poor to very poor condition. Stock water supplies were short to very short in 23% of the state as stock ponds dry up under the unrelenting drought.

 

Meanwhile, Kansas growers expect the heat wave to cause some yield losses to spring-planted crops.

 

"You can go out on any cornfield in the state and see leaves rolling up because of heat stress and it is only going to get worse," said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association.

 

Some of the early planted corn may soon be in the critical stage of pollination where even a few days of extreme heat can have consequences for the entire crop, White said.

 

It is unclear just how much of the state's corn crop is now at that critical stage. KASS reported Monday that only four% of the crop had silked, primarily in southeast Kansas.

 

But White said those figures are likely already outdated, White said.

 

"If it is not trying to pollinate, it might be able to sustain more exposure to those types of heat extremes with less damage than if it is pollinating," White said.

 

A healthy looking corn crop can go from looking excellent to showing an impact within days because there is not a lot of soil moisture to sustain the plants, he said.

 

"We are a long way from plantings not surviving in general terms," White said. "But all these things nick away at yields."

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