About Me

Kentucky, United States
Fourth generation beef producer, wife, mother, 4-H & FFA supporter, agriculture advocate, Christian, WKU alum, love livestock shows, basketball, college football, Dallas Cowboys. All things agriculture.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Helping Livestock Cope with Heat Stress

     A large percentage of our country is dealing with hot and dry weather much earlier than experienced in most years, and The Weather Channel has forecast temperatures above 100 degrees for the next five days for my little corner of the world here in Kentucky. Like most livestock producers we have been planning and making arrangements to care for our beef cattle, both in the field and in the show barn as well as for our goats, pigs, and one lamb.
     Livestock stress during high temperatures just like humans, and they will consume larger amounts of water if available. If you have ponds, streams, or creeks, on your farm, monitor water levels making sure adequate amounts are available during periods of drought. If all ponds are located in open fields with no shade, water tanks in shaded areas would be a good option if possible. Also, remember that when animals drink more water they will also urinate more, losing important salts and minerals so it is important to keep loose trace mineral salt available.
     As a quick heat reducer, water misters or even regular lawn and garden sprinklers attached to posts in shaded areas can also keep livestock cool. Just be sure to have a large shaded area available because animals crowding in an area can increase body temperatures and stress.
     We do not have automatic waterers inside our barn, so our show stock rely on us to provide fresh, clean water daily. It is very important to empty, rinse, and refill all water tubs for these animals daily to be sure water consumption is at its highest. Adding electrolytes to the water of show animals is always beneficial when traveling to and from shows, however, during excessive heat it's an added bonus for the animals and will often increase their consumption. Remember that copper is toxic to sheep and to purchase electrolyes and minerals labeled for sheep.
     Fans keep air moving in barns and we use them daily on our show cattle, goats, and pigs. Checking the ventilation in a barn or facility is important, and taking the time to open doors or reposition a fan can make a difference in the air movement. Adding misters to the fan cages is an added bonus and can reduce the air temperature considerably in a barn. If misters are not an option, a fogger which attaches to the hose of a livestock blower can help to lightly spray and  cool cattle. Misters and foggers can be found at most livestock show supply businesses.
     To keep all livestock eating well during heat stress, feed during cooler or coolest times of the day, early morning or late evening. Yes, it's just common sense that even the livestock don't want to eat when it's hot, but they need to continue eating well to grow or produce milk for their offspring.
     Hauling livestock to fairs and shows can be risky in extreme heat. Consider the distance and haul livestock only in early morning, late evening or overnight for their safety, or the best decision may be to just stay home.
    
    

    
    
    
    

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