According to Raechelle Cline, a spokeswoman with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, half of the more than two dozen herds of dairy cows struck by the heat stress deaths are in Wisconsin, though the exact number of deaths in the state has not been determined.
A news release from the agency, issued on July 20, stated:
“We suspect that these calves have succumbed to the heat because young calves fewer than 10 days old tend to drink very little water,” says Donald Sockett, DVM, an epidemiologist/microbiologist with the WDVL (Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory). Many of the dead calves were also housed in calf hutches that were not properly configured for summer ventilation, he added.
Officials at the WDVL indicate that calves are dying in one of two ways. They are either weakened by heat stress and die from a bacterial infection or they become dehydrated and die from heat stroke.”
As Free From Harm points out, the mothers are probably indoors having their mammary glands pumped for profit, while their newborn babies are taken away and penned outside in the hot summer sun, where they are dying in record levels.
Most of these calf deaths were completely preventable. The news release from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection gives several suggestions on how to proceed. These include hosing down baby calves with cool water in the late afternoon, providing water or electrolytes for the calves at all times, and monitoring the temperature inside the occupied hutches.
That all makes sense to me; in fact, these are all obvious suggestions for any creature trying to survive in record high temperatures. So why were they not implemented? While 100 degrees is hot for cattle, with a little water and shade, very few cows will ever perish from the heat. If that was the case, cattle wouldn’t be raised in droves in Texas, Oklahoma, and California.
If you believe that the treatment of these animals is cruel and unnecessary, please sign our petition demanding that Wisconsin farmers do not allow any more baby calves to die in this extreme heat.
And thank you.
Photo Credit: Zealandia photography