UF Scientist Receives Federal Grant to Reduce Heat Stress in Cattle

Dan Cattle, Florida, Weather

cattle heat
Cattle under the shade at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center.
Courtesy of UF/IFAS.

Right now the summertime heat is top of the news for a large portion of the U.S. And every year across the country the heat causes $300 million in damage to cattle. This is the reason why University of Florida scientists are working to try to cool the animals and increase their beef production. The newest scientific effort will be led by Philipe Moriel, a UF/IFAS associate professor of beef cattle management. He received a five-year, $640,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to continue a UF/IFAS-wide effort to help  prevent cattle from getting harmed by oppressively warm temperatures.

Scientists already know the long and short term effects of heat stress during pregnancy on performance and health of dairy cows. Moriel’s new study will set foundational knowledge of the effects of heat stress on grazing beef cattle.

“This data will help us identity the exact physiological changes occurring in pregnant cows, and then to their offspring, once they are exposed to similar heat,” Moriel said. “This knowledge will allow us to develop novel heat-mitigation strategies to enhance cattle performance and health, which in turn will improve the profitability of cow-calf producers in hot climates.”

Moriel, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Hardee County, and his team will start their research by reducing heat in pregnant cows. They will follow that by lowering temperatures in their offspring. With cows and calves, scientists will alleviate heat by increasing the animals’ access to shade.

Through these methods, Moriel and his colleagues believe they can help calves grow optimally and produce more beef. In addition to immunity, they will study how attenuating heat helps muscle growth and reproduction as calves grow up.