Extreme heat and humidity killed thousands of cows in Kansas in recent days, state officials said, and temperatures continue to harm farm animals.
Kansas is the third-largest American cow state, with more than 2.4 million animals in feedlots -small areas or buildings where cows are kept and fed or fattened.
The temperatures and humidity spiked over the weekend in western Kansas, and cooling winds disappeared, causing animals to suffer heat stress, according to Scarlett Hagins, spokesperson for the Kansas Livestock Association. She said the animals couldn’t adapt to the sudden change.
“It’s going to be oppressively hot and stressful for the animals,” Drew Lerner, president of World Weather Inc, said.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said at least 2,000 cows died from heat stress, adding that the number was based on farms that contacted the agency to help eliminate dead bodies. According to farmer news website Progressive Farmer, an estimated 10,000 cows had already died.
To help animals through the heat, farmers need to check the animals regularly. “You can’t say, ‘Oh, I checked them three days ago,'” Brenda Masek, president of the industry association Nebraska Cattlemen, said. “When it gets hot, you’ve got to be out every day and make sure that their water is maintained,” she added.