Compatible with Android and Apple mobile phones, a new app from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service app helps forecasts times when cattle will undergo heat stress. The app forecasts up to seven days in advance of extreme heat conditions and offers suggestions that can protect animals before and during a heat-stress event.
In addition to high temperatures, weather-related factors like humidity, wind speed and solar radiation can contribute to heat stress.
According to the ARS, the Midwest is subject to recurring heat waves that can have significant financial impact on livestock producers and especially feedlot cattle producers. In the last ten years, there have been several heat events in the Midwest; direct and indirect financial losses for these events are estimated at over $75 million for the cattle industry alone. These weather events are unavoidable, but management strategies can reduce the impact of heat waves. Advance notice combined with heat stress management plans can help minimize losses associated with these recurring weather phenomenon.
Until the early 1990s, the National Weather Service issued livestock safety warnings that helped feedlot producers preempt losses or diminished productivity resulting from heat-stress events. Starting in the mid-2000s, researchers filled the void with a Web page (http://bit.ly/ars_app), which is still available, offering similar forecasts.
Recent increases in smartphone usage prompted ARS to design and launch a mobile-app that allows producers to access forecasts while they’re in the field.
A list of ARS apps can be found at http://mfa.ag/2fC3rFv.