Kansas Mesonet now is offering information online that will help cattle producers better monitor extreme weather conditions affecting their animals. Data compiled by Kansas State University from a network of weather monitoring stations across the state is being used to calculate the Cattle Comfort Index, which summarizes stress levels from excessive heat to intense cold. Located at www.mesonet.k-state.edu/agriculture/animal, it is based on climatological factors including temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.
According to Kansas Mesonet Assistant State Climatologist Mary Knapp, the index is driven by data collected every five minutes and is updated regularly so producers can see how conditions change during the day. The intent is to help ranchers, feeders and dairymen determine the level of stress animals may be experiencing in their area at any given time. Data is available from each of the Mesonet’s 61 reporting stations in Kansas. There also is a chart for each station showing the index for the past seven days.
Knapp said actual animal response to local weather conditions will be dependent on factors not accounted for in the index, including age, hair coat, health, body condition, micro-environment and acclimatization.