Farm Talk

October 30, 2012

Cattle comfort advisor a useful tool

by Donald Stotts
CNHI

Parsons, Kansas — For cattle producers, quick shifts in fall and spring weather can be particularly stressful on a herd’s health and conditioning, and that is where the Oklahoma Mesonet Cattle Comfort Advisor can help.

“The cattle comfort advisor is now running year round,” said Al Sutherland, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension assistant specialist with Mesonet. “This means that heat stress in one part of the day can be monitored, along with quick shifts to cold stress.”

To stay on top of quickly changing conditions over large areas, the Mesonet Cattle Comfort Advisor provides minimum and maximum statewide maps for the two most recent days, the current-day forecast and the forecast for the subsequent two days.

For a detailed view of cattle comfort at a local ranch, time series graphs are available.

The Past 10 Days and Forecast map provides hourly cattle comfort information for the past 10 days based on Mesonet data and a forecast based on the National Weather Service North American Mesoscale Forecast.

“On one easy-to-follow graph, you can monitor the environment cattle have been dealing with and what is coming within the next three days,” Sutherland said. “Hovering over any spot on the graph with the mouse will bring up a window with data for the nearest one hour.”

The Past 10 Days and Forecast graph is a useful tool for monitoring how rapidly the weather changes.

“Large swings over short time periods may add enough extra stress to cause weak, already stressed, young or older animals to develop health problems,” Sutherland said. “Times of high-to-low or low-to-high cattle comfort shifts now can be quantified to get a better handle on what cattle at a ranch can handle versus when they need extra attention and health treatment.”

A graph of the Past 45 Days also is available to provide a six-week view of cattle weather conditions. This graph has two-hour data.

As with most Mesonet graphs, hovering over any spot on the graph with the mouse will bring up a window with data for the nearest time period. For the Past 45 Days graph, this will be in two-hour increments.

To access the Mesonet Cattle Comfort Advisor, go to http://mesonet.org via the Internet and click on “Agriculture.”

Choose the Cattle Comfort Advisor from the left menu or hover over “Livestock” from the top down menu and then move to and click on “Cattle.”

Cattle and calves are the number one agricultural commodity produced in Oklahoma, accounting for 46 percent of total agricultural cash receipts and adding approximately $2 billion to the state economy, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service data.

NASS data indicates Oklahoma is the nation’s fifth-largest producer of cattle and calves, with the third-largest number of cattle operations in a state.£