Reports of hundreds – even thousands -- of cattle deaths due to the heat last week -- are surfacing. Hardest hit area appears to be northeast South Dakota and southeast North Dakota.
South Dakota's State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven says 1,500 deaths have been reported his office.
The actual number is likely much higher, he says. Fifteen hundred is only the number that's been reported to his office so far.
More dangerous weather may be possible in the weeks ahead.
"The most important thing cattle feeders can do to help cattle cool off at night is by sprinkling mounds in dirt pens late in the evening or at night," says Sam Holland, SDSU Extension veterinarian. "This provides a cool place for cattle to lie down, allowing the heat to dissipate. Cattle can be sprayed directly during the day as well, but if cattle are sprayed, large water droplets should be used. Too fine a mist will only add humidity and make problems worse."
South Dakota Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Craig Schaunaman reminds producers who have lost livestock due to excessive heat that the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides financial assistance in regard to livestock deaths as a direct result of adverse weather conditions.
"Producers need to document the number and kind of livestock that have died as a result of the excessive heat and timely notify their local FSA office of these losses," he says.
For livestock death losses to be eligible under LIP, producers must file a notice of loss with their local FSA office within 30 calendar days from the date the loss is apparent to the producer.
Don't wait to contact FSA, advises Tyler Melroe, SDSU livestock educator.
He urges producers who have incurred losses above normal, to contact their local FSA offices as soon as possible. Before cattle are buried, composted, or rendered; FSA will need to have the numbers of dead cattle verified by means required by the FSA office.
Information pertaining to LIP or other programs administered by FSA can be found online at www.fsa.usda.gov.
Sources: SD FSA, SDSU