Special to Yavapai Health & Wellness News

July 25, 2023

By : Kim McElroy


A question we are asked this time of year is how our cattle handle the summer heat?  Cattle do not sweat the way a person or a horse does. They handle heat more like a dog, through respiration, reduced feed consumption and increased water intake.  On the Broken Horn D Ranch, we raise Criollo cattle which originated in the south of Spain and are very well adapted to our hot, dry climate.  They are a smaller breed with a lighter skeleton and hide and less hair, enabling them to tolerate heat better than English breeds of cattle.

Our cattle will be up grazing and foraging before first light.  Once their rumens are full, they’ll shade up and lay down to chew their cud.  Usually the cattle will head to water before noon and sometimes again in the evening.  In one pasture, the cows seem to water later in the afternoon, around 2-3pm.  While our cows do try to find shady spots to nap or hang out, it’s not uncommon to see them lying in a sand wash in full sun!  Once things cool off in the evening, they will graze some more.

We are blessed with live water in some of our pastures, while the other pastures are watered by wells or hauled water.  Having a reliable, clean source of water is essential for cattle. Salt and mineral supplements are supplied free choice to further help the cattle handle adverse weather conditions.  Local wildlife also greatly benefit from these water and salt sources.  Without cattle grazing, many areas would not be able to support wildlife as there is no water.

Our Criollo cattle will travel greater distances from water while grazing than their English counterparts and they spend less time hanging out by the water as well.  These behaviors help ensure more even grazing of the land and less overgrazing near the water sources.

In pastures with creeks, the cattle will eat the young cattails and willows growing along the banks, keeping them from over growing and choking out the waterway.  Consuming this lush vegetation is another method to increase water consumption.

When the weather is hot, we do not work our cattle during the hottest part of the day.  We’ll do any necessary gathering or sorting very early in the morning, when the temperatures are the coolest.  Our more strenuous works of branding and weaning are done in the spring and fall respectively, when the temperatures are more comfortable for all concerned.

Keeping our cattle healthy and happy year round makes for more and better calves and a better healthier beef for you!   Try Broken Horn D Ranch Criollo Beef today, available at The Honeyman Stores in Prescott and Prescott Valley.

Special To YHWN Do Cows Get Hot.Docx