Is it hot enough for ya? I’m sure you’ve heard this saying many times this summer, but did you ever think that it could apply to farm animals as well? For most farmers, when the weather is very hot, it not only means that it can be uncomfortable for them to work in (especially if they have hay to do), but they also have the task of making sure their animals stay cool as well. This is why most barns have very good ventilation systems.
In my barn, we have an air exchange system with big fans and vents that turn on and off automatically based on the temperature of the barn. This ensures that the temperature remains as steady as possible to ensure the hens stay happy and comfortable. The air is fully exchanged every 7 minutes. Even with this air exchange, on very hot days (i.e. days over 35 degrees Celcius), sometimes the barn can get a little warm. For this reason we have extra big fans (think wind machines in old movies) to keep the air fresh and moving through the barn.
There is feed and water available to the hens at all times, but on hot days their water consumption increases and their feed consumption decreases. We make sure we monitor this to ensure we know how the chickens are feeling and also so we have an idea of how production will go. Typically, when the hens are drinking more and eating less, although production stays at the same level, egg size can be smaller. If it remains really hot for a very long time, we can even consult with our feed contacts to put more in our feed to make sure the hens are getting all that they need while eating a bit less.
Farmers also have to make sure that they themselves remain safe in the hot weather – farm safety is something that farmers are always cautious of because they are often working with big machinery, and in the heat this becomes even more important. In my family we always make sure we have lots of water (and as a red head, lots of sunscreen too!) with us, no matter what we are working on around the farm.
So, next time someone asks you “Hot enough for ya?” you can think of all the farmers and farm animals trying to stay cool too.