Deadly Triple Digit Heat for the Ag industry

July 11, 2008 8:27:26 PM PDT
After a week of 100 degree heat, Kings County has declared a heat emergency. But the move has nothing to do with cooling center, or swimming pools. The heat emergency helps out rendering plants that are experiencing an overload of animals who died from heat stress.The triple digit heat can be too much for cows who find relief any way they can. Dairy farmer Pete Tiemersma, "They are hiding in the shade, under the misters, eating very little and producing at least a gallon a cow less." Pete Tiemersma already lost one cow on Friday morning from heat stress. The loss was an eerie reminder of the deadly triple digit heat wave in 2006 that lasted two weeks and killed hundreds of animals.

Tiemersma, "It was brutal, I recall going out yesterday morning and breeding cows and a bunch of them were panting like dogs because it did not cool off yesterday morning."

This week's scorching temperatures also wreaked havoc on poultry, mostly turkeys and chickens who couldn't survive the high temperatures. Rendering plants like Baker Commodities and Darling International were nearing their capacity. The heat emergency allows the plants to dump some of the animal carcasses in landfills like the Kettleman Hills facility.

Kings County Ag Commissioner Tim Niswander says, "This was a way to allow that company to work within their permit by allowing an emergency release of the restrictions versus operating on the weekends." Niswander says the emergency declaration gives officials more time to deal with the deadly affects of extreme temperatures. Niswander says, "It's miserably hot for everybody. For crops, for livestock and for people."

The heat declaration will last until Tuesday.
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