Managing livestock in extreme heat
13 Dec 2021
Heat stress affects the welfare and health of livestock resulting in decreased production, infertility and compromised immune systems leading to increased susceptibility to disease.
We can’t control the weather; however, we can take steps to reduce the effects of heat on our livestock.
Avoid handling livestock on extreme heat days
It is best to leave livestock alone in heatwave conditions. Give them every chance to deal with and recover from the heat. If it can’t be avoided, then plan your musters and handling for the early morning or late afternoon. Consider staging musters so stock do not have to move too far at one time. Providing shade in the yards and watering down the yards helps cool the environment for both the livestock and handlers.
Similarly, avoid transporting stock during the extreme heat. Again, if it is necessary, plan trips, and move stock when it is cooler. Plan for stops where there is shade and water. Reduce the stocking density on the truck to allow good air flow.
Provide shelter or shade for your livestock
Shade will significantly reduce the heat load on your stock and reduce their body temperature. Trees and tree lines provide good shade. Make sure there is sufficient shade in the paddock or yard so that there is enough space for each animal to lie down during the heat. Providing shade in the yards and watering down the yards helps cool the environment for both the livestock and handlers. Make sure there is sufficient shade in paddocks as well.
Ensure livestock have cool, clean water
Stock will drink up to two times the normal amount of water in hot weather, so larger than normal amounts of good quality drinking water close to shade should be readily available. If the water is dirty, stock may reject it so consider alternatives such as fencing off watering points and pumping water through troughs.
Contact their local district veterinarian by calling 1300 795 299 if you have animal health questions relating to managing stock in hot conditions.
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