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Summer Heat and Livestock

Summer is officially here and it has brought the heat along with it!  Staying cool during these hot summer months is important, both for people and for livestock.  For most humans, we can come inside and cool off relatively easily – but how do we help our four legged friends and livestock? 
The American Association of Equine Practitioners shared a great infographic on hot weather tips for horses that includes making sure that horses have plenty of ventilation and are encouraged to drink water, among other things.  They also have an article to go with this infographic – you can find the article here.

Graphic from American Association of Equine Practitioners
For other livestock, here are some tips and suggestions to help counteract heat stress through these summer months:
  1. Make sure that animals have access to plenty of cool water.  Water consumption will decrease if the water is too warm (usually above 80°F), so make sure to provide shade for metal water troughs; and if you use hoses to fill your water troughs, be sure to keep them out of the sun when not in use, or let them run for a few minutes before filling the troughs to get rid of any water that had been sitting in them and was heated by the sun.
  2. Provide pest control and plenty of shade.  Similar to horses, livestock need a place with shade (barn or other area) that has plenty of ventilation and good wind flow.  Livestock, especially cattle, tend to group together to get away from flies, which can increase heat stress.  To help with this, be sure to provide fly control during these hot summer months.
  3. Change your feeding times.  Feeding later in the day will allow the livestock to do most of their fermentation at night, when the heat created by this is easier to dissipate.  If you feed twice a day, try to feed the majority at night. 
  4. Work livestock early in the morning or late at night.  By working them early in the morning before it gets too hot, or later in the evening when the sun is going down, you can significantly decrease stress from handling during hot weather.
  5. For cattle, calve before it gets too hot, and try to get most cattle bred before the heat comes as well.  Newborn calves do not handle heat as well as mature cattle, so try to finish calving before the hot summer months arrive (in our area, mid-May or before).  Heat can also affect conception and sperm production as well as increase early embryonic loss.  The earlier you can get your cattle bred, the less reproductive loss you will have from heat stress – for spring calving herds, aim to finish up breeding by the end of May.
  6. Check your livestock often during long hot spells.  If humid, high heat days last more than a couple of days, be sure to check your livestock frequently for signs of extreme heat stress.
We hope you find these tips helpful when trying to keep your livestock cool this summer!  Did we miss something?  Feel free to share!
Monday, July 09, 2018
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