David Zirnhelt discusses the importance of heat proofing livestock and crops in this week’s column. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

RANCH MUSINGS: The effects of heat stress and larger livestock

Eat less meat you might say, however, climate change is creating more drier agricultural land

“Surviving climate change starts with heat proofing the cow.”

So starts a recent piece of research. Eat less meat you might say, however, climate change is creating more drier agricultural land, so if we are to feed the coming billion people, we have to help the cow adapt to the range environment.

This is happening just as it seems there are more black cattle which heat up more than their lighter coloured relatives.

In high heat the cow’s immune system is reduced in effectiveness therefore making them more susceptible to disease and parasites.

This same science shows that for every degree Celsius increase in temperature the volume of staple crops lost to insects will increase by as much as 25 per cent. (SCIENCE magazine).

The same research says that: “For reasons scientists don’t yet fully understand, rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals in plants,including grass, which means livestock have to eat more to get the same nutrients.”

In a previous article I referred to the 40-year decline in protein content of the grass and other plants that livestock eat resulting in less protein in our food.

We have long known that the protein content of grains is reduced as the organic content of the soils is reduced by tillage.

READ MORE: Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither is a ranch

Yes, farming, which is tilling the soil, uses up the naturally occurring organic matter which is the basis to soil fertility.

To make things worse, some Florida research shows that excess heating there has caused the pregnancy rates to decrease from 83 per cent to 77 per cent.

As a result of these phenomena, the Brangus breed (cross breed) of cattle were created.

This breed is 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Angus.

The Brahman breed, which originated in India, is light creamy-brown or tan, and has short hair and superior sweat glands for cooling. You see a lot of these cattle in Mexico.

But, the marbelling of the meat with fat, is much less than in the Angus breed, which we see as the one of the tastiest meats.

This raises the topic of the need for shade for animals so they don’t overheat. Trees in pastures is the easiest way to accomplish this. The cooler ground under well- spaced trees can retain moisture for grass growth.

If you want your livestock to eat more rather than less, then feed them in the evening rather than during the day.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Just Posted

Community Cultural Celebration Pot Luck creates healthy bonds

The event was facilitated by the Multiculturalism Program of the Canadian Mental Health Association

Cariboo Festival 2020 registration now open

Please have your online registrations and entries complete for all disciplines before early February

PHOTOS: Santa poses with pets of all kinds, no matter how much fur or scales they have

A steady stream of pet lovers was supporting the local BC SPCA Saturday morning

Annual Tuba Christmas Concert coming up Wednesday, Dec. 11

The event draws dozens of lakecity music lovers each year and an equal amount of musicians

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Most Read