Sure Champ®’s Guide to Reduce Heat Stress in Cattle 

Warmer temperatures are quickly approaching, and that means you should start thinking about how to reduce heat stress in cattle. Heat stress is almost inevitable, but some management practices can be implemented to help animals better cope with rising temperatures. 

All mammals regulate their internal body temperature involuntarily. Heat stress occurs when the animal’s ability to self-regulate and lower core body temperature is overwhelmed and the animal’s performance and/or health is compromised. 

At Sure Champ, we want to help you #PreptoWin in the show ring and in life. That’s why we’ve created this blog that explores the causes, signs and impacts of heat stress on your cattle. But more importantly, we’re going to discuss how to best reduce heat stress in cattle and improve performance. 

8 Causes of Heat Stress in Cattle 

Heat stress in show cattle can occur when the environmental conditions, particularly temperature and humidity, exceed the animal’s ability to dissipate heat effectively. 

Several factors can contribute to heat stress in show cattle: 

1. Elevated Temperatures 

Elevated ambient temperatures, especially during hot summer months, can increase the risk of heat stress in cattle. High temperatures make it more challenging for cattle to regulate their body temperature, especially when combined with high humidity levels. 

If the overnight temperature stays above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, like it often does in the summer, heat stress is more likely to occur. 

2. High Humidity 

Humidity levels play a significant role in heat stress because they affect the animal’s ability to cool down through evaporation. High humidity reduces the evaporation rate of sweat from the animal’s skin, making it harder for cattle to dissipate heat and regulate their body temperature. 

Any time the Temperature-Humidity Index (THI) is above 80 cattle will be under heat stress. Hot weather following precipitation will dramatically increase THI. 

3. Lack of Shade 

Inadequate shade or shelter can expose show cattle to direct sunlight and heat, intensifying the risk of heat stress. Providing access to shade, such as trees, portable shades or barns, allows cattle to seek refuge from the sun and reduce heat exposure. 

Most people tie-in during the day, but if you don’t, be sure that your cattle have a shaded area to lay out of direct sunlight.  

4. Limited Air Circulation 

Poor ventilation and airflow in barns or show facilities can contribute to heat buildup and heat stress in cattle. Proper ventilation systems, adequate fans and misting systems can help improve air circulation and cooling for show cattle in enclosed spaces. 

5. Transportation Stress 

Transporting show cattle, especially during hot weather, can increase the risk of heat stress due to the confined space and limited airflow in trailers or trucks. Adequate ventilation, proper loading densities and minimizing travel time can help mitigate transportation-related heat stress.  

6. Crowding and Competition 

Overcrowding in stalls, make up areas or show rings can heighten heat stress by limiting the animal’s ability to move freely and dissipate heat. Minimizing crowding and providing ample space for each animal can help reduce the risk of heat stress during shows and events. 

7. Inadequate Water Supply 

Access to clean, fresh water is essential for maintaining hydration and cooling mechanisms in cattle. Inadequate water supply or restricted access to water can increase the risk of dehydration and heat stress, especially during periods of high heat and humidity. 

8. Physiological Factors 

Certain factors, such as breed, coat color, age, body condition and health status, can influence an individual animal’s susceptibility to heat stress. Dark-colored cattle, excessively conditioned cattle and those with preexisting health conditions may be more prone to heat stress and require extra attention and management during hot weather conditions. 

Overall, proactive management practices, including providing shade, adequate ventilation, access to water and minimizing transportation stress, are essential for preventing heat stress and ensuring the well-being of show cattle during periods of high temperatures and humidity.  

Let’s look at some of the tell-tale signs of heat stress, so you know how to know if your cattle could be suffering or not. 

Signs of Heat Stress in Cattle 

Heat stress in show cattle can manifest through various signs and symptoms. It’s crucial for cattle exhibitors and caretakers to be vigilant and recognize these signs promptly to intervene and mitigate the effects of heat stress. Some common signs of heat stress in show cattle include: 

Excessive Panting, Increased Salivating 

Panting is a natural mechanism for cattle to dissipate heat and regulate their body temperature. However, excessive or rapid panting, especially when accompanied by drooling or open-mouth breathing, may indicate heat stress. 

Excessive salivation or drooling can be a sign of discomfort and elevated body temperature. If you see extra drool, especially accompanied with panting, you should be alarmed. 

Increased Respiratory and Heart Rates 

Elevated respiratory rate is another indicator of heat stress in cattle. Rapid, shallow breathing may occur as the animal attempts to cool down by expelling heat through respiration. In addition, heat stress can cause an increase in heart rate as the animal’s cardiovascular system works harder to maintain normal body temperature. Palpating the heart rate or using a stethoscope can help assess cardiac function. 

Decreased Feed Intake 

Heat stress can suppress appetite and lead to decreased feed consumption in cattle. Show cattle experiencing heat stress may show disinterest in feed or have reduced feed intake compared to normal.  

Just like many humans don’t want to eat big meals when the temperature soar, neither do our cattle. Watch for this easy sign of heat stress. 

Decreased Activity and Lethargy 

Heat-stressed cattle may become lethargic and show reduced activity levels. They may prefer lying down in shaded areas rather than standing or moving around. 

Elevated Body Temperature 

Monitoring rectal temperature can help assess the severity of heat stress in cattle. An elevated body temperature above the normal range (typically 101.5°F to 103.5°F or 38.6°C to 39.7°C) indicates heat stress. 


Heat-stressed cattle may exhibit signs of dehydration, including sunken eyes, dry muzzle and tacky or sticky gums. Monitoring hydration status and ensuring access to clean, fresh water is essential during periods of heat stress. 

Muscle Tremors or Weakness 

Severe heat stress can lead to muscle tremors, weakness, or staggering in cattle. These signs may indicate advanced stages of heat exhaustion or heat stroke and require immediate attention. 

Collapse or Inability to Stand 

In extreme cases, heat-stressed cattle may collapse or become unable to stand due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. This is a medical emergency, and immediate veterinary care is necessary to prevent further complications. 

Recognizing and addressing signs of heat stress promptly is crucial to prevent adverse health outcomes and ensure the well-being of show cattle during hot weather conditions. Implementing proactive management practices can help mitigate the risk of heat stress and maintain optimal comfort and performance in cattle. 

Being proactive is the best approach to helping animals deal with heat stress. Having a solid plan in place to combat heat stress could play a crucial role in maintaining your animal’s performance during periods of increased heat.  

6 Ways to Prevent and Reduce Heat Stress in Cattle 

Reducing and preventing heat stress in show cattle requires proactive management strategies and careful attention to environmental conditions.  

Here are some effective ways to minimize the risk of heat stress and ensure the well-being of show cattle during hot weather: 

1. Provide Shade & Proper Ventilation  

Ensure that show cattle have access to shaded areas in barns or outside such as trees or portable shades where they can seek refuge from direct sunlight and heat. Adequate shade helps reduce heat exposure and provides a cooler environment for cattle to rest and graze. 

Improve airflow and ventilation in barns, holding areas and show facilities to help dissipate heat and maintain a comfortable temperature for cattle. Install fans, ventilation systems, and misting systems to promote air circulation and cooling, especially in enclosed spaces. 

2. Don’t Skimp on Fresh Water 

Provide clean, fresh water sources throughout the day to ensure that cattle stay hydrated and can replenish fluids lost through sweating and panting. Monitor water availability regularly and address any issues with water quality or access promptly. 

If you are at a show where the water contains chlorine or has an unfamiliar flavor that causes your cattle to avoid drinking, consider adding Sure Champ® Liquid Boost® with Vita Charge technology to the bucket.  

Liquid Boost is a liquid for all livestock designed to provide immediate support to the animal’s digestive and immune system. Formerly known as Vita Charge Liquid Boost, it contains flavoring to help drive intake of feed or water. It also contains AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility and MOS (mannan oligosaccharides) to help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system. 

3. Adjust Feeding Practices 

Modify feeding schedules and rations during hot weather to minimize metabolic heat production and digestive heat load in cattle. Offer smaller, more frequent meals with lower protein content to reduce the heat generated during digestion. Consider feeding during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late evening to reduce heat stress in cattle. 

4. Manage Transportation Stress 

Minimize transportation stress by scheduling cattle movements during the cooler hours of the day or evening and providing well-ventilated trailers or trucks with ample space and airflow. Avoid overcrowding and ensure that cattle have access to water and adequate rest during transit. 

5. Implement Cooling Measures 

Utilize evaporative cooling methods, such as rinsing down cattle with water or using misting systems, to facilitate heat dissipation and lower body temperature during the day. Avoid spraying water directly on cattle’s heads or backs during hot weather, as this can trap heat and increase humidity levels. 

6. Monitor the Weather 

Stay informed about weather forecasts and monitor environmental conditions, including temperature, humidity and heat index, to anticipate periods of high heat stress and implement appropriate management strategies. Adjust show schedules, handling or travel to minimize heat exposure for cattle and exhibitors. 

By implementing these proactive management practices and prioritizing the well-being of show cattle, exhibitors can minimize reduce heat stress in cattle and ensure that cattle remain healthy and comfortable during hot weather conditions. 

Good Nutrition Can Help 

It is nothing new that BioZyme®, maker of Sure Champ, is committed to improving the well-being of animals through nutrition. The AO-Biotics Amaferm, found in all Sure Champ products, not only improves digestive health and stimulates appetite, but is also research-proven to decrease body temperature. 

Amaferm is also research-proven to increase water and feed intake, which is often a problem in heat stressed cattle. So, how can you reduce heat stress in cattle? Turn to Sure Champ. 

Sure Champ Extreme with ClariFly® is a pelleted, daily supplement for show livestock with Clarifly designed to support hoof health, hair coat and performance when temperatures are above 70 degrees. In addition to Amaferm, it contains MOS to help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system. It also contains HEAT® technology, a combination of essential oils and garlic, as well as ClariFly to support animals when heat and insects are a challenge. 

Sure Champ Climate Control Gel is a gel for all livestock designed to support digestive health and recovery when temperatures are above 70 degrees. Formerly known as Vita Charge Climate Control Gel, it can be used during times of extreme temperature changes such as going from a climate controlled barn to a trailer, or from a cool trailer to a hot barn.  

Climate Control Gel promotes appetite and water intake through the use of HEAT technology, a combination of essential oils and garlic. It also contains Amaferm, which enhances digestibility and is research-proven to help lower body temperature. 

Get your Sure Champ Products to Reduce Heat Stress in Cattle 

Are you interested in feeding Sure Champ products increase digestibility, increase overall well-being and reduce heat stress in cattle? Let’s get you started on these products on your pathway to #PreptoWin today! 

Sure Champ products are available from BioZyme dealers across the country. Locate your nearest dealer today. 

Maybe you would like to purchase the small pack products online. You certainly can shop our online store

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