“Those cows look hot.” You may have had this thought as you drive by a field here in Southern Utah in the summer months. Especially if they are black cows standing in an open field or a feed lot.

I was in the mountains near Enterprise this weekend and there were many cows in fields quietly eating while standing in the direct sun. It seemed hot to me, but they didn’t seem to worried about it. 

Do cows get hot? How do cows handle places even hotter than St George, like Texas or even Mexico? The answer is, yes, cows get hot and there has been a lot of research into how to keep cows from getting “heat stressed” as this has an impact on the bottom line of the owner of the cows. There are many sites including this one that give advice on how to keep cows from getting too hot. 

Cows don’t sweat as well as people or horses do. They have to disperse the heat built up during the day when the sun goes down. They cool their bodies from the heat of the day by breathing heavily and whipping their saliva around. Black cows get hotter than lighter colored cows. Of course, lots of available water is important and shade trees are helpful. Cows do better in grassy fields instead of packed dirt or cement. 

Breeds of cows from hotter parts of the world do better like Brahmans that have more sweat glands and a greater tolerance for heat. British and European breeds don’t do as well in hot climates. Many breeds here in the U.S. have been mixed with these breeds that are more heat tolerant. The owner of the cows does not want to lose any and this mixing of breeds makes a big difference.   

So next time you see a cow in a field that looks really hot, take a minute and find out where it hails from, if it has the right breeding, it’s probably doing better than you think. Doesn’t mean you couldn’t offer it a cool drink of water, maybe a shade umbrella. Maybe some frozen alfalfa treats from your freezer. 


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