Hot Topic…How to Keep Your Animals Cool in the Heatwave!

Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 by Scott

     In light of the constant and extreme heat we received recently, we were asked what impact the heat has on our livestock; and how we try to minimize this impact. So, in response I talked a little bit about how we help to keep the cattle as comfortable as possible, and decided I’d share my quick answer on here!

      The set up we have for our cattle is designed to keep them cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and somewhere in between in spring and fall. With the ability to open and close areas to promote airflow or conserve heat, combined with access to a shaded but open barnyard and always accessible constant refill water bowls, the cattle practically take care of themselves. However, in times of extreme heat, such as we’ve experienced lately, the only way to keep them from getting uncomfortable is to keep almost everything the same. The only thing we change is our management practices. While double and triple checking the water and airflow in the barn, we try to keep their activity to a minimum so that they don’t get overheated or stress out. For this, we make sure we refrain from bedding them with round bails (they love this, but it becomes a game to them to roll them around with their heads and spread it out) and instead spread their bedding for them with loose straw. Secondly, we do not ship or sort any into different pens during this heat. While we always try to minimize their stress, these activities unavoidably will temporarily get them excited, cause them to move more. While these things are unlikely to harm the cattle by themselves, in weather like this they react very much like us to heat stress. It’s not going for a run, or going to the gym that is likely to cause a case of heat stress, it’s the combination of a lot of different things the body can usually handle easily, but fails to in the extreme and muggy heat.

     After this answer, I was asked for some info on our farm just to give readers a better idea about the scale of cattle operation we have. So, I responded that our farm name is TDS Farms Ltd and we house the cattle with my grandfather (Robert Snyder) in his barn with his cattle as well. Together, we have approximately 250 at any given time. We buy them in young, raise them until finish, and ship them.

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