A LOCAL vet has issued advice to help cattle cope with the hot weather, after a rise in reports of heat stress and heat stroke.

Lee-Anne Oliver, partner at Hexham-based veterinary practise Scott Mitchell Associates, said that last week’s high temperatures had led to a influx in calls from farmers, whose cattle were suffering with heat stress or stroke, and she shared advice on prevention, warning signs and the best appropriate action.

Lee-Anne explained that cattle were susceptible to heat stress because they did not sweat enough, and were designed with a huge fermentation vat inside them, otherwise known as the rumen, that produced more heat.

This combination made sunny days with low wind and high humidity difficult for them to handle.

“Cattle aren’t daft. They seek shade, paddle in water and keep as hydrated as they can on hot days, which is why it is essential that those necessities are available to them,” she said.

“Natural water resources in particular should be checked regularly to make sure that they haven’t dried up. Put out extra sources early if the weather is predicted to be hot.

“Trees are a great source of shade. Small patches of woodland or copse are ideal, but even parking a trailer in a field will provide some protection.”

Lee-Anne also advised avoiding handling cattle in the heat of the day, instead choosing the early morning, as the body temperature of a cow was highest two hours after the peak ambient temperature and took six to eight hours to come back down, meaning during the evenings the animal was still working to cool down from the heat they had been subjected to during the day.

Signs of heat stress included cattle appearing agitated and increased panting or salivating, and quick shallow breathing. Should they get too hot, and these symptoms went undetected or worsened, this could lead to heat stroke which required immediate veterinary treatment.

Heavy or black cattle were more at risk of heat stress than lighter coloured and weighted cattle. Lee-Anne also said flies were a concern in hot conditions, and were responsible for the rise in the disease, summer mastitis. At this time of year autumn calving cows were not lactating as they were dry waiting to calve down again, and were therefore at high risk. Lee-Anne strongly recommended preventative fly pour on preparations and grazing low risk fly pastures.

Biting flies cause cattle to bunch up which decreases cooling. The main symptom of summer mastitis to look out for was a swollen, painful teat which had attracted flies.