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Heat affecting animals

July 7, 2012

Smith

The hot, dry weather is taking its toll on planted corn as the extreme heat causes the corn to shut down, especially during this critical time of pollination.

However, the heat can cause another problem for unprepared farmers. Farm animals can be adversely impacted.

Soaking units and fans should be used to keep animals cool, a local expert says. Keeping the animals cool is critical, especially when they are in holding areas.

“It is critical to keep them cool when they are in holding areas because you have all them cattle pushed in the together not moving around much,” said John Smith, agricultural educator at the Auglaize County Ohio State University-Extension Office. “It is critical to keep them cool.”

Smith said it is also beneficial to provide ample shade, such as a building or enough trees.

A plentiful amount of cool, clean water is always essential, especially with the recent heat. Water troughs or containers should be large enough and designed in such a way that all animals have easy access. The number of watering points and water flow should be increased if a large number of animals are kept together.

Troughs or containers should be firmly fixed so they cannot overturn. They should be kept clean and should be designed and maintained to prevent injuries. Large concrete troughs help keep drinking water cool. Water pipes should be of sufficient diameter with sufficient pressure to cope with periods of peak demand. Unless you are around to continually check water containers then water should be provided through automatic or reticulated systems rather than in containers that may be emptied or tipped over by thirsty animals.

“They should always have fresh, clean water and it should be kept clean,” Smith said.

A Holstein cow will drink approximately 50 gallons of water a day, Smith said. Heat stress on the cattle can be enough to affect the quality of the milk.

It is also important to keep smaller animals such as pigs, chickens and turkeys cool during the heat. The recent storm caused a problem locally when the loss of power caused problems with ventilation.

“Lots of turkeys died during the storm from the heat,” Smith said. “The ventilation shut down.”

Preparation is important for preventing heat problems. Animals should be aware of extra water supplies prior to excessive heat and should not have to walk far to get to it. Animals that are tethered should be kept in the shade and kept close to water.

Constructed shelters preferably should be made of shade cloth or corrugated iron or timber. Aluminum and galvanized steel rooms are excellent in reflecting the sun’s rays.

Animals should be moved as little was possible as simple moving or handling can cause their body temperatures to jump as much as 3.5 degrees Celsius.

Heat tolerance varies between the age and type of animal. Young animals, dark-colored animals and animals that were recently sick or have had a history of respiratory disease are especially susceptible to heat. Pigs and recently sheared sheep are susceptible to sunburn. High producing dairy cows are more effected than low producing cows because of the additional metabolic heat generated during lactation.

Heat stress in your animals can be identified by increased respiration, panting, increased water intake, lost of appetite, lethargy and increased salivation. In severe cases in can cause unconsciousness.

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