This summer dealt us cooler weather than typical, but we all know the sweltering heat that back-to-school and state fair season can bring. Put these five tips into practice to keep your livestock comfortably cool and safe from the effects of heat stress.
"I am always amazed by the number of people who ask 'Do animals really need shade?'" states Dr. David Fernandez, University of Arkansas (Pine Bluff) Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist. Animals get hot outside just as humans do.
You know how dark clothing seems to absorb more of the sun's rays? Same effect goes to animals – darker animals tend to absorb more heat. Keep in mind that some animals with light colored hair hide dark skin underneath, so they can become warmer much faster than you think.
2. Cool water
The key to keeping your animals comfortable could be as simple as where you place your water tank. Build a shade over the tank or place under an already available shade to keep the water as cool as possible.
3. Work animals when temps are lower
Movement and digestion generate heat internally which can have as significant of an impact on heat stress as external radiation. Therefore, producers should work livestock in cooler parts of the day if at all possible.
We know that a little bit of air movement on a very hot day can work wonders. Erect fans to make those still, miserable days much more manageable for livestock. Bonus: add spray misters to the fans or sprinklers.
For livestock that stay outdoors, sprinkler systems are a great, effective option in reducing external heat in pastures or feedlots. Be sure to adjust hoses in a way that animals' legs stay untangled and equipment functioning.
Even when you have many of these strategies in practice, stay on the look out for signs of heat stress: panting/breathing with an open mouth, excessive sweating in horses or Brahman cattle, trembling, stumbling, or disorientation. However, these tips go a long way to help livestock stay relaxed, cool, and productive during the intense heat of summer.