Fan blowing on cows in a stall | 6 tips for keeping livestock cool in summer


It is getting hot out there, friends. While you may be able to walk into your air-conditioned homes to cool off, your animals can’t so they need your help to stay cool. Because heat stress is a major concern for livestock during hot months, it is important for you to know the signs of heat stress and have systems in place for keeping livestock cool in the summer heat.

How to Identify Heat Stress in Livestock

Livestock species aren’t all able to regulate their body heat the way we do. For example, chickens and pigs don’t sweat so they have to be intentional about reducing their body temperatures. 

When animals are overheated, they will take action to lower their body heat. If you notice these actions, you should pay close attention to ensure they do not fall victim to heat stress or heat stroke. 

There are some universal signs of heat stress that present in most livestock species. 

These heat stress symptoms include:

  • Reduced Feed Intake
  • Increased Water Intake
  • Lethargy & Exhaustion
  • Panting & Heavy Breathing
  • Seeking Shade

Other signs of heat stress in different species could include:

  • Cattle standing in the shade or in a pond instead of grazing 
  • Poultry holding their wings up to allow air to flow underneath
  • Hot to the touch rabbit ears
  • The skin of pigs turning dry and blotchy

Tips to Keep Livestock Cool in Summer

1. Provide Shelter and Shade

Before the heat sets in, look over the livestock shelters that you have in place. They should have proper ventilation to allow airflow. If there is no ventilation, add a window or a vent. The shelter should also provide relief from the sun, wind, and rain.

sheep under shade tree

Outside of the shelter, animals should have additional access to shade under trees or other structures. Shade cloths can be hung if there is no natural shade.

2. Give 24/7 Access to Drinking Water

Livestock need constant access to fresh cold water. You may need to refill the water throughout the day if it gets hot. Placing waterers in the shade and adding ice to the water can help keep it cool for a longer amount of time. If you have a large number of animals competing for water, offer multiple drinking stations.

horse drinking from water trough

3. Use Cooling Techniques

Additional cooling techniques can be utilized if shade, water, and treats don’t regulate your animals body temperature. 

Fans:: 

If it is really hot with no breeze, you may want to consider turning a fan on your animals. I have a fan mounted to the ceiling in my chicken coop to help cool them off on really hot nights.

MIsters & Sprinklers:: 

Water misters can be used to spray a fine mist of cool water on your animals. This should not be used on animals (like rabbits) that have a hard time drying off. If you want to use a mister on a rabbit, spray their ears only. Misters also shouldn’t be used inside shelters excessively or they can cause an overly damp environment.

Sprinklers can also be turned on in the pasture so animals can walk through as needed.

Cooling Pads:: 

Cold tiles, frozen water bottles,  and cold wet rags can be placed in enclosures to give the animals a cool spot to rest.

Pools::

Add small kiddie pools for ducks & geese to swim in and for livestock to walk through. This helps to clean the animals and lower their body temperatures. Don’t do this for chicks or rabbits as chicks will drown and rabbits have a difficult time drying off.

goose swimming in kiddie pool

4. Offer Cool Treats

Another way to keep livestock cool in summer is to give them cold refreshing treats. Cold melon, frozen eggs, and ice cubes with fruit & nuts are great options.

5. Clip & Shear As Needed

A heavy coat of fur, hair, wool, etc. is excellent for cold weather because it holds heat in close to the animal’s body. This can be detrimental in the summertime, however. 

sheep being sheared

If your animals haven’t naturally shed their heavier coats, you can clip and/or shear them to help release body heat. 

6. Adjust Feeding Routines

Consider moving your feeding times or feeding areas to line up with the new daily temperature patterns. Try to feed in the morning before the sun heats everything up and/or move your feeders and waterers to a shaded area. 

goats eating hay from feeder in shade

By implementing these ideas, you can drastically improve the health and well-being of your animals during summer. Do you have any additional tips for keeping livestock cool?


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6 Tips for keeping livestock cool | Homesteaders of America
6 Tips for keeping livestock cool | Homesteaders of America