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Summer on the Farm: Keepin’ Cool
By Morgan Kontz
Morgan is a corn, soybean, alfalfa and cattle farmer from South Dakota
While my husband’s family has been farming and raising beef cattle for generations, I am a first-generation farm wife. Before I became a farmer, I never knew how much time and effort went into producing nutritious food. And, as a mom, providing healthy meals for my family is extremely important to me.
Our family grows crops and raises beef cattle. We deeply care for our animals; their comfort is our top priority each and every day. Even on Sundays or holidays, we are always focused on making sure our animals are comfortable and healthy. There are always things we do to care for their well-being – especially during extreme summer weather.
How we help our animals in the hot summer months
In the hot South Dakota summers, we’re constantly focused on keeping animals cool and in good health to ensure they thrive so we can provide healthy meat for our customers.
One of the first ways we can help our animals is by raising breeds that adapt well to our local conditions. Like other animals, there are different breeds, each having characteristics better suited for certain types of environments. In our area, we raise common breeds that you might see in your area – black Angus and the white-coated Charolais cattle. These are both flexible breeds that do well in extremes – hot or cold.
Weather is one of the biggest factors for us in raising cattle and helps us plan our days. Luckily, in our area, weather gradually changes so the body can adjust naturally. Cattle lean up and shed some of their thick coats to prepare for the hot summer conditions. We constantly check on the animals and know when they’re not feeling well. By keeping a close eye on them, we can help them stay hydrated and care for them when they’re feeling the effects of the hot summer weather.
Where our cattle are located on the farm also determines how we care for them. We have some cattle inside buildings while others are outside. This past year, we were excited to construct a new building that is designed to allow air to flow through in a way that keeps the cattle cooler. Water is readily available in this building. Other cattle stay outside in pastures or open feed yards, where they have access to water sources like ponds or sprinkler systems. Just like we want to go for a dip in the hot weather, cattle will get in ponds or stand underneath the sprinkler system to cool off. We also have a tractor with an attachment that mists water we drive through the feedlots. When cattle see this tractor, they’ll come up to it and stand underneath the mist.
Along with helping our animals manage extreme weather, we regularly work with a nutritionist to ensure their bodies are getting the right nutrients at the right time for optimum health. Our cows also have their babies earlier, so calving is done before the hot temperatures of summer set in. It allows for a better pregnancy and delivery for the cow.
Caring environment leads to high-quality product
Farming is our way of life and our livelihood. Know that farmers want to do what’s right for their animals while also ensuring we’re providing our customers with a product that is of the highest quality.
Reach out to us if you have any questions or want to hear more about how we raise our cattle. We love to talk about how we do things on our farm that feed families – just like yours – across the world.