3 Ways to Keep Homestead Livestock Cool During the Dog Days of Summer

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Animals get hot too! Here’s how to keep your livestock cool, comfortable, and safe during hot weather.

Sometimes the end of summer seems like the hottest part (though this has not been true in Ohio this year), so if you’re spending the afternoon parked in front of the air conditioner, you may need to make sure your livestock isn’t suffering from the heat as well.

Animals of all kinds are susceptible to heat stroke and stress caused by high temperatures without adequate protection, so if you’re in an area currently plagued by a heat wave, below are a few tips for keeping your livestock cool, safe and healthy during the dog days of summer.

Keeping cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, and other livestock cool isn’t rocket science, but it takes some advance planning. Heat stress can occur anytime the mercury rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or so, especially for animals being worked (i.e. draft horses), confined in close quarters without ventilation, or lacking access to shade. Goats are among the most heat tolerant livestock, as are, surprisingly, sheep—their wool actually protects them from extreme heat as well as cold. Pigs and cattle are among the least heat-tolerant livestock.

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Supply Clean, Cool Water

Providing clean drinking water is a prerequisite for keeping livestock no matter what the temperature is, but going the extra mile with your watering regime pays off in extreme heat.

  • Place watering troughs in the shade, or switch to automatic waterers that replenish themselves with fresh cool water from a buried pipe each time an animal takes a drink, almost like a water fountain for people.
  • Add extra watering devices so dominant animals don’t prevent weaker animals from taking a drink whenever they need to.
  • Freeze plastic tubs of water overnight to create ice blocks for cooling watering troughs down to a more refreshing temperature.

Shade, Shade, Shade

Ample space in the shade should be available to every animal on hot days, though keep in mind that all shade is not created equal. A forested area for your animals to lounge is much cooler than a barn with a hot tin roof and insufficient ventilation. If you lack the shade of large trees, the next best thing is an open-sided shade structure in your pasture. This may be as simple as four wooden posts with a tarp or shade cloth strung between them, or you can invest in a lightweight movable shade structure.

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Apply Sunscreen and Give Frozen Treats

Sunburn is a major issue for light-skinned pigs, which is one reason why they like to cover themselves with mud. And pigs are naturally forest animals, so if you can’t provide a daily mud bath or a shaded environment to live in, you may need to slather them up with sunscreen to keep them from getting burned…

Finally, an overheated animal will relish something cold to nosh on. If you have an extra refrigerator, chill the daily grain ration before feeding, and it will help to cool the animal from the inside out. It’s best to feed such concentrated feedstuffs at the end of the day in hot weather, as the digestive process causes animals to heat up. But there is no harm in freezing excess fruit and vegetables and offering them to your animals as a special treat in the heat of the day.

Read more tips at ModernFarmer.com

 

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