Unusual cold spell leads to large-scale cattle deaths in Brazil

Unusual cold spell leads to large-scale cattle deaths in Brazil

In a rare occurrence, almost 3 000 cattle have succumbed to hypothermia in Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul state in recent days, local veterinary services announced on their website on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. The event has raised concerns due to its uncommon nature, despite the minimal impact on the country’s massive cattle herd.

The cattle deaths represent an insignificant fraction of Brazil’s estimated 224 million strong cattle population. As such, their loss is not expected to disrupt beef production for meatpackers such as JBS (JBSS3.SA), which operate in the state. However, the incident has attracted attention due to its rarity. According to local press reports, the temperatures in the most impacted areas fluctuated between 6 and 9 °C (43 to 48 °F).

Alcides Torres, the proprietor of agribusiness consultancy Scot Consultoria, reassured that local cattle breeds can typically withstand the low temperatures characteristic of Brazil’s winter, which started today. He remarked, “Brazil exports live cattle for slaughtering in Turkey below snow. It was the cold but there was something else.”

The veterinary services of Mato Grosso do Sul did not respond to requests for further comment, beyond a statement updating the tally of cold-related cattle deaths to 2 725.

The statement explained that hypothermia ensues when the body temperature drops below normal. It can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe in cattle. Factors such as the animal’s nutritional state, the low availability and quality of pastures, and the absence of shelters against sudden climatic changes, rainfall, and winds, all potentially contribute to instances of mortality due to hypothermia.

The statement also noted that “previous episodes of mortality due to weather conditions in the state have already been described as prone to occur in a cyclical way.”


1 Brazil cattle die as cold temperatures batters large beef state – Reuters – June 21, 2023

Featured image credit: fabifer


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