Kite Feedlot Team
October 24, 2023
Being prepared can be the key to avoiding a heat event. We talked to Matt Luhrs Feedlot Manager at JBS Mungindi Feedlot about what he has learnt is important to manage your risks.
“Having first-hand experience of a major heat event that resulted in cattle mortalities in early 2009, provided many learning lessons for all involved. It taught me the importance of being prepared. At all JBS sites, we have an uncompromising commitment to animal welfare and as a result we have a very structured approach to our heat management processes both pre-summer and once the official heat load monitoring season starts.
Planning and preparations for heat management starts prior to our official heat load monitoring period (October to March) when all pens are fully resurfaced to ensure no excess manure load leading into Summer. The pre-summer audit is completed to ensure the trigger points remain the same. This includes the RAPS for all cattle populations, which can be numerous but provides us with a thorough cross section of the heat load risk to all our cattle! We then make sure our heat load management plan is audited and updated where required. It is then submitted to our consulting vets for approval along with formulation of heat load rations.
We also make sure our equipment is up to date with pre and mid-summer services and calibration of the onsite weather station.”
“To ensure all site employees are aware of their responsibilities, we hold training sessions on our heat management plan early in the season and all staff are required to sign off their responsibilities.
Once we are in our heat monitoring period, we maintain daily monitoring sheets. These include a range of parameters from weather and cattle observations to the Kite site-specific weather forecast for the week ahead. This works to identify any potential for heat load events and allows us to plan ahead, for any changes to the scheduled start times of employees, altering of cattle movements, increased water points, and increased pen cleaning overnight as required.
I think it is imperative that as an industry we utilize the technologies that are available to us all. Positive perception is critical to the sustainability of the industry and we are only as good as our weakest link so we need to ensure heat load management is forefront through the monitoring period across the industry from 50hd to 80000hd feedlot capacity. We can’t control nature but we can have an impact on the outcomes and the welfare of our animals.”
We can’t control nature but we can have an impact on the outcomes and the welfare of our animals.
Photo: Mungindi Feedlot. Kindly provided by JBS
As you head into summer it is good to remind yourself of the types of weather events that can cause heat load problems. Read more.
With the peak storm period on us, it is good to reassess the issues with wet pens.
Humidity in the pens can be significantly higher than outside the pens, so your weather station may not indicate the true heat load exposure of your animals, nor will the forecast. Read more about what you can do to manage this risk.
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