When a heat wave hits, utilize the Animal Comfort Index from the Kansas Mesonet
With extreme heat impacting much of Kansas this week, do not forget about the Kansas Mesonet’s animal comfort index. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can negatively impact animals. It is important to keep in mind that actual animal response to temperature stress will be dependent on a number of factors not accounted for in the index. Those include, but are not limited to: age, hair coat (winter vs summer; wet vs dry), health, body condition, micro-environment, and acclimatization.
Users can access this new tool from either the main Mesonet page by selecting from the drop down menu, Agriculture, then Comfort Index (Figure 1); or directly from this link: http://mesonet.k-state.edu/agriculture/animal/.
Figure 1. Animal comfort values on July 18, 2019 at 2:35 pm (CDT). The Cheyenne station is selected in this example. Stress level at this location was “Extreme Danger”. Graphic from Kansas Mesonet.
Animal Comfort Index
Building on the Comprehensive Comfort Index, produced at University of Nebraska, the tool illustrates the impact of both extremes of hot and cold. The index is unique in that it includes, in addition to air temperature and relative humidity, effects of wind speed and solar radiation. Development and validation of the index used data from beef and dairy cattle. The map indicates where current conditions fit on the scale. On the “About” page, there is a description of the values on the scale and their potential impact (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Cattle comfort ranges. Graphic from Kansas Mesonet.
Understanding the Webpage
The “About” section contains information about the comfort index. There is also a link to the publications used to produce page. For more information on navigating this resource, users can select a page tour from the main soil moisture page located at the top of the featured map.
Figure 3. Cattle on a pasture near the Sedan Mesonet station. Photo by Chip Redmond, K-State Research and Extension.
Christopher “Chip” Redmond, Kansas Mesonet Manager
Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library