Livestock: Beating the heat

With temperatures in the 90s and the heat index even higher, it’s clear that we are in the dog days of summer.

While it’s important for people to practice safe measures when higher temperatures prevail, it’s also important for livestock producers to alter their daily management practices to ensure the safety of their livestock.

“Coordinating animal movement and handling in the morning or evening hours is essential to minimizing heat stress for livestock,” says John Grimes, Ohio State University Extension beef coordinator. “Working animals in the middle of the day is a recipe for heat-related health issues.” recently published an article with tips to help livestock producers.
  • Plan ahead: Alter the schedule to take advantage of times before or after the real heat of the day kicks in
  • Increase water access: Make sure animals have plenty of water and that the water flow is sufficient to keep tanks full and ensure that there’s enough space at water tanks
  • Provide other cooling help: Remove objects that are obstructing natural air movement and incorporate ventilation, shade and sprinklers
  • Keep an eye out: Review the weather outlook, specifically as it pertains to potential heat stress by getting the seven-day heat stress forecast by location from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service
In addition to the above tips, shade is also important to animal comfort, however it’s important to note that not all shade is created equal, as stated in a recent article in Ohio’s Country Journal.

“Sometimes shade in buildings or under man made shelters is hotter than just being outside where livestock can get in the breeze,” says Roger High, Ohio State University Extension sheep coordinator. “When the animals concentrate in those areas, there may be a buildup of ammonia from their feces and urine, and it may actually be less healthy than being out in the open air.”

The bottom line for all livestock farmers – keep animals well fed and watered and handle moving practices to the coolest times of the day.

Do you or do you know a livestock producer who is practicing safe measures to help his/her livestock beat the heat this summer? Are there any additional tips that you can share?

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