Saturday, December 24, 2011

Keeping Livestock Cool During Extreme Heat

Having animals to care for in an environment that is becoming hotter can be extremely taxing. The National Weather Service has said that more than 1,000 heat records have been set or tied this last summer across the nation! Excessive heat warnings have been issued for much of the Central and Eastern United States through the summer months with temperatures having been forecast above 100 degrees, combined with humidity that could make it feel as hot as 115!

Veterinarians say farmers should do what they can to keep their animals out of direct sunlight and provide them with water - both inside and out. Although shade trees help livestock, and so does a breeze - provided there is one, keeping animals cool beyond these natural measures will be critical for farmers and handlers.

Large-scale farms, which face additional challenges with some animals housed in close quarters and unable to naturally cool off can typically use fans and water misting systems to keep animals from overheating during the peak hours of the daytime temperatures. Here's a few general tips to help keep your livestock cool when the mercury rises:

Try to choose heritage breed livestock that are better suited to your climate, less prone to illness, stress are just hardier in general.Shade is critical. Always make sure your pastures have adequate shade. There needs to be enough that your entire herd can lounge comfortably!Make sure all your animals have access to cool water and are sufficiently hydrated.Grass is cooler than dirt - animals on pasture remain cooler than ones in feedlots.Make sure pigs/hogs have mud wallows or water to cool down in as they do not use sweat as a cooling mechanism like other mammals.Make sure that caged or penned animals have plenty of ventilation.Rabbits are extremely susceptible to heat - frozen bottles of water or ice packs in their cages or runs can help significantly.When livestock are trying to metabolize their core temperature is increased - so feeding animals in the morning or evening is better than during the hottest part of the day.Provide pastured livestock with appropriate minerals to compensate for what they lose.Avoid working livestock or moving herds during the heat of the day.

Considering the staggering amount of livestock that can be lost in serious heatwave conditions - having an Environmental Alarm and Control System to monitor environmental conditions, offer alarm notifications, alarm history reviews, and remote control capabilities can be essential for many farmers and handlers.

Whether monitoring temperature, humidity levels, unauthorized entry, water seepage, power or HVAC system failure, Environmental Alarm and Control Systems have been used and trusted on large scale farms and hobby farms alike for years. These units keep watch around the clock - calling you with reports in the event of a problem. You can also call in to the units any time for a status report.

Considering the cost of significant loses - it only makes sense to have precautionary measures in place. The weather should never be under estimated - always be prepared. Most importantly, whether you do it personally or use modern techno keep an eye on your livestock for signs that the heat is becoming overwhelming. Despite the fact that we'd rather sit in the AC or the pool, it is important to regularly check on our livestock!

Renée Laurin
Absolute Automation Inc.

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