Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Save your animals from heat stress

Heat Stress in Animals

Animals need to be in a "comfort zone" to perform well. Comfort zone is a temperature range in which animals do not have to spend any energy to maintain their normal body temperature. Comfort zone differs depending on animal species, breed, and age. However, temperature ranging from 60oF to 80oF is comfortable to most of the livestock species. Environmental temperature higher than 85oF combined with high humidity is stressful to farm animals. In this kind of environment, animals try to minimize heat stress by seeking shelter, drinking cool water, wallowing in water, panting, increasing respiration rate, sweating (if they have sweat glands), minimizing feed intake, and so on. Heat stress may cause reduced animal performance, abortion in pregnant animals, and even death.

Cattle congregated under trees on a hot day, Union Springs, AL

Current situation and animal care

Currently, most part of USA is experiencing heat wave. Livestock producers have to pay particular attention to take care of their animals to minimize the loss that may occur from existing weather condition. Few tips are presented below to minimize heat stress in animals.

  • Make sure animals have access to shelter or shade all the time. Natural shade from trees have a great value to protect animals from heat and direct sunlight 
  • Provide enough cool, fresh drinking water to animals
  • Let the animals graze in the cooler portion of a day – early morning and late afternoon or evening
  • During the hot portion of a day, provide a good quality hay and other supplementary feeds as necessary under the shade if you determine that grazing on pastures during the cooler portion of a day is not going to be enough for fulfilling the nutrient demand of the animals
  • If animals are housed in a constructed structure, sprinkling water couple of times during the hot portion of a day will facilitate the evaporative cooling and minimize heat stress

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