Relentless Heat May Cause Urinary Issues in Beef Cattle

Posted: July 26, 2021 | Written By: Don Cleaver, Form-A-Feed

raising steers

This prolonged heat spell is going to lead to some issues even after it breaks. One of those potential issues is urinary calculi. This condition is more frequent in males vs. females and more common in steers than bulls due to some physiological reasons.

One of the biggest risk factors is elevated dietary phosphorus which is typical in high grain diets. This is according to Andrew Niehaus, Ohio State University assistant professor of farm animal surgery. Corn samples show that corn phosphorus values are fairly consistent and some individual samples can be 20-30% higher than the average. (Information provided by Rock River Lab).

Matt Meisner, Kansas State University adds that dehydration is a second risk factor. If the animal is not drinking enough water, the urine becomes concentrated. An ample supply of palatable water keeps the urine diluted and helps flush out stones that start to form before they become too large.

Reduced water consumption can be from a number of reasons. Weather conditions that keep cattle from their normal eating, drinking and loafing routine, frozen water, empty or dirty water supply, water quality, voltage issues, as well as a lack of proper waterer space are some of them. Adding an additional water source will help spread the animals out and allow them to cool easier.

Common signs of bladder stones

  • Low urine volume or lack of urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Stretched out stance and tail switching while trying to urinate
  • Urine dribbling
  • Urine may be blood-tinged and darker in color

The risk of this disease can be seasonal. In our geography we normally see more issues in fall and winter. Because of the heat we are experiencing, we should be taking preventative measures right now.

Try Tip- Adopt this preventative measure:

For cattle on self-feeders add 40-50 lbs. per ton of Hydro-Lac for cattle under 600 lbs. and 20-25 lbs. per ton to cattle 600 lbs. and up to promote water intake, keep the steers hydrated, and their urine volume at a healthy level. You will see the difference.

By keeping cattle on feed and hydrated you will also reduce the chances of other digestive issues such as founder, bloat, and acidosis in the upcoming weeks.

This is a condition that all sheep, goat, beef, and dairy cattle producers should understand and act to prevent.

Beef January 2015 Heather Smith Thomas “How to minimize and treat waterbelly in cattle “
“Urinary Calculi in Beef Cattle”- BCH-3520 Bill Kvasnicka, Extension Veterinarian, University of Nevada
“Prevention of Urolithiasis in Livestock”- David C. Van Matre, DVM,DACVIM Veterinary Extension, Colorado State University

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