The heatwave that gripped the country recently wreaked havoc in southwest Kansas, where temperatures reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Kansas is one of the US’ biggest cattle farming states, with a population of more than 6.5 million. As if being a farmed cow isn’t hard enough, thousands of cows died as cattle struggled to acclimatize to the sudden change in temperatures. Shocking footage of thousands of dead cows has emerged during the intense Kansas heatwave.
Heat stress is caused by a combination of high temperatures, humidity, and wind speed, and results in negative impacts on both animal welfare. It was early enough in the year that many of the cattle had not yet shed their winter coats making the heat stress even worse. As forecasts point to a warmer-than-average summer, and climate change turns up nighttime temperatures, heat stress among the state’s millions of cattle continues to be a growing concern. The amount of water cattle drink doubles from winter to summer. On a hot day, a 1,500-pound steer could drink up to 30 gallons — roughly enough to fill a bathtub.
Extreme heat doesn’t just impact farm animals, either. Last year, more than one billion of Canada’s marine animals, including mussels, snails, and clams, died in a heatwave. By cutting back on your consumption of animal products, you are saving these creatures from suffering in a changing climate, at the same time as reducing the emissions as a result of animal agriculture, which helps to reduce the severity of that change.