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COLUMBIA - This summer has been mild but as mid-August approaches and temperatures are rising, so does the risk for heat stress in cattle. MU researchers developed a smartphone app this summer to help detect potential heat stress in cattle.

ThermalAid works with weather data, the animals' health conditions and surroundings to detect when they are at risk. As temperatures and humidity increase, cattle's bodies are less able to cool off. The animal's breathing will slow and most will stop eating. More than $1 billion in dairy cattle production was lost nationwide last year due to heat stress according to MU researchers. Around $500 million was lost in beef cattle.

"When the temperature and humidity get up to a certain level, the animals reduce their intake of food and their growth slows down. If it continues, they can have all sorts of health problems, they can have reproductive problems," said MU Professor Don Spiers. Spiers helped lead the team of developers for ThermalAid.

Once cattle producers know the risk for their animals, the app provides tips to treat the cows. The app is available for Apple products for 99 cents in the App store. Developers hope to release the app for Android devices in the next few months.