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Kansas ranchers challenged with keeping cattle hydrated, shaded from dangerous heat

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 8:09 PM CDT
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HARVEY COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - A few months removed from fighting to keep calves safe from sub-freezing temperatures, Kansas ranchers are focused on keeping their cattle protected against dangerous heat.

“That winter storm we had this year was the worst one I’ve ever been through,” said rancher Greg McCurry with McCurry Bros. Angus, near Sedgwick.

Now, ranchers are working on the other end of the weather spectrum, working to keep livestock cool as temperatures near triple digits.

“It’s pick your poison. Either extreme is not good,” said rancher Katie Carothers with KCK Farms, near Anthony.

The heat and humidity isn’t uncommon, but ranchers say it’s here earlier than usual this year.

“Maybe late June, first part of July, we’ll see these extreme temperatures,” McCurry said.

He said in these conditions, keeping cattle hydrated is more important than ever.

“A thousand-pound cow would drink 40 gallons of water minimum a day and you can almost double that if they’re wet, or nursing a calf,” McCurry said.

Other than making sure cattle have enough water to survive the heat, there isn’t much else ranchers can do but provide shade and access to ponds or creeks.

Flies are one of the biggest challenges that comes with the heat. Ranchers face an uphill battle in trying to keep them off of their cattle. Sprays and tags can provide some temporary relief, but it’s another expense item for farmers and ranchers in a year in which prices have spiked.

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