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One of the hottest summers on record affecting the bottom line for cattle farmers

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BATON ROUGE -  The intense heat isn't just problematic for humans, but it's also a problem for cows.

Dozens of cows were huddled up under a tree keeping out of the sun at the Southern Ag Center's experiment station earlier this week, only leaving that shade when Dr. Pat Bagley comes to feed them.

"They always stay in the shade when the sun is up so we kind of change where we put them what we do with them," Bagley, a professor of animal sciences at Southern University told WBRZ.

Bagley says the extreme heat can put stress on the cows, and make it hard for them to grow.

"When cows get hot, they stop eating as much, and of course the way we make money on the cow is we feed them grass because it's inexpensive and they grow bigger and bigger," Bagley said.

So when it's this hot, and cows don't eat as much as they usually do, that can really affect the bottom line.

"We like to sell a calf at 600 pounds and when they get heat stressed, it can be 400 pounds and when you are selling them at $1.60 a pound, that can be a lot of money," Bagley said.

The extreme heat and lack of rain can also hurt hay production. That means in the winter, a cattle farmer who has less hay, might have to buy some during the colder months. And that is expensive.

"This time of year it costs $45, or $50 a bale. In February, when you run out, that same bale is around $200," Bagley said.

It's a costly issue, which is why those who raise cattle have to keep them out of the heat. And the best way to do that, just like for humans, is make sure the cows drink water, and stay in the shade.


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