Researchers at the University of Missouri are about to release an incredibly handy little app for farmers, given the fact that the state's been declared a certified agricultural disaster area because of weeks of extreme heat.
"Thermal Aid" is a new app for smartphones which can help farmers calculate if their cattle are experiencing "heat stress." An overheated cow will start eating less and can eventually die.
Luckily, it also appears that the app works without having to stick that precious $400 iPhone into or up anything to get results.
The app downloads local weather conditions and allows farmers to enter the respiration rates of their animals. The program also takes in the cow's breed, its diet, whether it's beef or dairy, in a feedlot or a field, etc. Thermal Aid then spits out a prediction on whether the cow is comfortable or in danger of heat stress. Farmers can spray down their cows with water, provide extra shade, pop in a few industrial sized fans, or change the cows' diet to try to bring their temperature down.
It's not just an issue of humane treatment -- dairy cows start producing less milk and beef cattle will cease to fatten up if overheated for too long. The University of Missouri estimates that the condition costs an average of $1.7 billion a year to the cattle industry, and this epic heat wave is sure to hurt producers' bottom line.
The app is still marked "coming soon" on the website, but for cows who have to stand around all day in this weather, it probably can't come soon enough.