Jun 18, 2022 - Science

Blistering heat wave threatens cattle herds after thousands died last week

cattle grazing
Cattle graze near wind turbines at the Invenergy LLC Buckeye Wind Energy Center in Hays, Kansas, U.S., on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

After a heatwave killed thousands of cattle in Kansas earlier this month, more scorching temperatures are hitting the central plains this weekend.

Driving the news: At least 2,000 cattle in southwestern Kansas died amid a heat wave last week, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

What’s next: More blistering heat. The National Weather Service is warning of dangerous temperatures in Kansas and across the plains and deep south through Father’s Day weekend.

  • That could lead to record-breaking heat for minimum temperatures and daytime maximum temperatures throughout the Plains and Gulf Coast, per NWS.
  • “The hottest temperatures versus normal will be positioned in the northern and central Plains where Excessive Heat Watches and Heat Advisories have been posted due to heat indices ranging between 100-110 degrees each late morning and afternoon each day,” according to NWS.

Why it matters: Cattle can experience heat stress when in an excessively hot and humid climate and there isn’t a breeze to help cool them off.

  • Rapid temperature increases to as high as 108 degrees preceded the initial wave of deaths, Fox News reported.

What they’re saying: "The combination of high temperatures, humidity and not a lot of wind made it difficult for the cows to stay cool," said Matt Lara, a spokesperson for Kansas's Department of Health and Environment, per Fox News.

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