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Managing Cattle in Extreme Heat...and Other Farm Animals

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  • Managing Cattle in Extreme Heat...and Other Farm Animals

    Ok, this heat wave has got me stressed worrying about my animals. I spent the day trimming in this unbelievable heat and I'm so over it.

    I am concerned about my cattle...I know that cattle cannot sweat like horses but rather the European cattle like I have (Black Baldies) can only sweat around their noses.

    Like many places, we are having a horrible heat wave. I noticed tonight at chores time that they seemed to be panting. They were OK...came up and got their alfalfa pellets and had a good appetite...but we have another stinking 3 or more days of this heat.

    They do have shade in their shelter and they do use it. What else can I do to help them cope? Make a muddy place for them to soak their feet? I doubt they will stand for hosing...they are not very tame. Am I overworrying the matter?

    Tomorrow will be at least as hot as today. It was 100F at 3:30 and the heat index was 115F. I am worried about the collective stress...as it builds and the animals get more stressed.

    I'm struggling right now to save chickens...we are going out in a few minutes and moving about 80+ broilers back out of the pasture into a shedrow coop I have for the duration of the heat wave. I'm losing them in this heat. Loss two broilers yesterday and 5 today. Poor chooks just suffer badly in this weather with their feathers. I'm moving the hen coop in the morning under a tree for shade, and they have a fan...they fare better than the heavier broiler types. Ducks are doing OK but they can go for a swim...these are meat ducks and yes they have a kiddie pool. I figure they may as well enjoy their short stay on earth.

    Horses are OK and seem to be the best adapted to the heat. I can look out at 4 pm and the colts are having mock battles and running so I'm not too worried about them. They have plenty of water and shade if they want it...which they never seem to.

  • #2
    You can hose them off and/or set up a fan if you're that worried about them, but I expect your cattle will weather the heat okay. We've got a lot of black baldies down here on the TN/AL line and ours did just fine back in Aug 07 when the *average* high for the month was an even 100 degrees.

    Comment


    • #3
      I read on MSN news today that some areas have lost up to 1500 head of cattle due to the heat wave. Of course there weren't any more details as in where they were, how they were being kept, if it was a drought area and water was limited, etc.

      This heat is brutal, you trimmed in it??? More power to you, I'd have puked and passed out.

      Can you temporarily fence off/move the cattle to a smaller confinement so you can hit them all with the hose whether they like it or not? Only other thing I can think of with cattle would be keep up lots and lots of cool fresh water and maybe freeze them some treats overnight tonight? I do this for my horses...I use the cheap Gladware plastic containers about the size of a brick and fill them with juice and then freeze overnight. Then I can either pop them out for them to lick or pop them oout and into a water bucket as a huge floating flavored ice cube.

      Or if you have a big chest freezer, try it with some juice mixed in water (or molasses mixed in water) and some cut up apple/carrot pieces or whatever cattle like to snack on and toss it in a 5 gallon bucket and freeze that whole thing. Stick it on the grass upside down for a few minutes in that heat and it should slide right out and all the cattle can lick at it.
      You jump in the saddle,
      Hold onto the bridle!
      Jump in the line!
      ...Belefonte

      Comment


      • #4
        It's 46C here today, I feel your pain .

        We hosed the cattle down during feed time (really nice cold cold well water), they actually seem to be doing quite okay with the heat. Actually my horse spent most of the afternoon out grazing in the sun, really didn't seem to upset about the heat.

        It's the chickies I'd definitely be worried about. Our older chicks/ducks/turkeys (2 mons) have been panting all day, I've been re-filling water with cold and re-filled the duck pond too, but they're all still HOT in the chicken coop. Opened up every window I could, but as much as I'd like to leave the door open, unless I'm going to sit out there with a shot-gun all night... coyotes don't stop just because it's hot!

        We got meat birds today too, but they are in the barn which is stone & nice in cool. Actually I just checked on them and they are all sleeping in a big bunch!
        (No they are NOT cold, I've found chickens just like to sleep on each other! Actually they REALLY like sleeping on my ducks, apparently they are fuzzy and soft )
        "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
        Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
        Need You Now Equine

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Yes, I trimmed today...and yesterday and the day before that. Truly, if there is a more thankless job than a farrier in this type of weather, I am not sure what it is. Since I don't use metal shoes, at least I don't have to use a forge...small blessing. The worst part is the flies on the sweaty miserable horses and trying to hang onto their legs while they twitch and jerk. Seriously, fly spray is about worthless in these conditions.

          We just got in from moving 85 9 week old meat birds in from the pasture shelter. This is the first time all summer we've had any losses and the third batch we've raised. Poor chooks are still panting and it's 94F heat index now and 84F actual temp. (We have a weather station which is kind of neat so I know exactly what it is at any time).

          I'm hoping we got them out of there before we lose anymore. Several seemed pretty weak and stressed. They are only a week or two from slaughter so losing them now is a major bummer. We have them in a coop with two fans running tonight. I have some week old broiler chicks in the brooder in the same building and their lamp has not been on for a day or so now. Since they are not fully feathered they are doing Ok.

          I appreciate the ideas for the cattle. I can try hosing them...see if they like it. I could set up a sprinkler for them also and see if they like it. They seem pretty smart at taking care of themselves so I probably am worrying over it for nothing. I saw the news headlines also about the major losses of cattle in the midwest.

          My turkeys seem fine as do my ducks. It's interesting to see how the critters deal with the heat. I'd imagine sheep are tough this time of year. I am thinking of getting some so if anyone knows much about managing sheep in heat, it would be interesting to hear about it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Its stinking hot here in NH, it was 85 with a heat index of 95 an hour ago. It is not cooling off.

            I saw a flock of crows in the field today, they were actually panting. My chickens did the same thing, put their wings out and pant.
            save lives...spay/neuter/geld

            Comment


            • #7
              DDB, are you trimming at home or clients' horses? Either way, try bringing a pedestal fan with you for trimming. My farrier does, has a big floor fan he brings to jobs and he has that plugged in and on high before he sets up anything else. The horses stand with their nose in it happily sweat and fly-free. (blows hard enough to blow flies away)

              I'm not even sure a forge would be felt in this heat, LOL! It's so hot out there by noon in the sun that it would be hard to tell if the forge was on or not.

              Chickens don't do great in heat. Well, they do awesome at 350* for a while. But outside, not so much. Poor things. Do you have a mister? I bought two years ago on Walmart online. Awesome things and cheap as heck. Just hook up the hose, clip it where you want it strung along and position nozzles where you want the mist to go. IIRC I bought a 25' one and a 15' one and both together with shipping were about $60 or so? Maybe misting the chickens during the day will help?

              We drove by some dairy cows tonight...all standing almost back deep in their pond. You could almost hear them all saying, "Aaahhhhh!"
              You jump in the saddle,
              Hold onto the bridle!
              Jump in the line!
              ...Belefonte

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Misty...I generally do use a fan. It is a godsend and carry a good one with me in my truck. Unfortunately the place I worked today, fans are not allowed. I know...weird rules but the owner is about 90 years old and very set in his ways. Also we are working outside under a huge pecan tree. Usually it's very pleasant but it was pretty stifling today.

                The mister is a good idea. I'll check them out on line.

                Our long range plans include some ponds but it will be a while before we can afford to have them dug.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                  The mister is a good idea. I'll check them out on line.

                  .
                  I got a mister for the shade shelter in the pasture. Works great, and drops the temp about 15 degrees.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I wish I could offer some insight on your chickens, but I have none..I know I am caring for my neighbor's layers and broilers while they are away and we have had 36 consecutive days of over 100 degree temps..they are all weathering fine..

                    Cows, just make sure they have constant water and shade. I have been giving mine electrolytes as well..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      DB - All you can do is make sure the cattle have free access to water, shade, and salt/mineral block. Another thing you can do is make sure whatever form of fly/insect control you're using (ie, back rubber) is functioning - as the flies will no doubt be tormenting them.

                      No advice on the chickens, in the past I've frozen bottles of water and placed them in the coop, but they all seem to just want to hunker in the shade and wait it out. So - for them, water and shade.

                      Please take care of yourself, too.
                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                      -Rudyard Kipling

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Moved my 26 chicks/turkeys from one building to another because of the heat. Can't put them in the barn yet -- nowhere predator proof. they're currently hanging otu in a gravel floor area of my attached garage. Not great as it's still hot in there, but not NEARLY as hot as it was getting in the brooding house. I think the high ceilings are working. They do have a pedestal fan in with them as well as multiple water cans. The turkeys seem to pant before the chicks do. Have been trying to put frozen gallon jugs of water in with them, but they seem to melt before the heat of the day since I have to put them in before I go to work. Not sure it's doing much of anything.

                        My laying hens seem to be doing quite well actually. Their room is dirt floor on the east side of the barn. My egg production JUST dropped yesterday - from 18-ish per day to 12 yesterday. otherwise I've been doing really well. Don't see them during the day but once the barn starts throwing a shadow (or early inthe am) they're out pecking around.

                        The cow, 9 month old angus, has been spending a LOT of time in the barn - the only real shade. I think he's going out and grazing at night. Still comes running for his small bit of feed. I'm taking that as a good sign that he's weathering the weather well.

                        Keeping the dog inside as much as possible, not that he minds. Being a newfy, he certainly prefers the cold to the heat. Went out with me to feed at 8:30 last night and it was still about 85. Came in and immediately went running upstairs to the bedroom - where the only AC in the hosue was running. He loves being in that room and sitting with his face RIGHT in front of the box fan I have going to push the cool air out into the hallway. Needless to say, he's staying home this weekend when I go announce at Gemwood Horse Trials.
                        ************
                        "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                        "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If you do mist or spray the cattle with water, make sure there is a fan or breeze to blow off the wet. Just like with hosing a hot horse, it is the water REMOVAL that cools the animal down.

                          Leaving a wet animal (cattle or horse) standing, no fan, no scraping water off, no breeze, is the same as putting his winter blanket on! That wet hair just HOLDS his body heat inside, so he is then hotter than before you wetted him down. Cows are even hotter than horses, because their stomach ferments the feed before moving it along the digestives system. Cattle put off a LOT of body heat at any time, so you can't just leave them standing wet with no air moving over them!!

                          If they like the shed, perhaps a fan inside to keep a breeze moving over their bodies would be the best help. Even tame, I can't believe our calves would freely stay for hosing down! We do bathe them tied to the washrack, but there is no choice in it for them to make. Then they get scraped and water blown off, before getting put back in pasture.

                          We have fans on our 2 calves at night when they are in stalls. Just keeps the air moving so they are not as hot. They are pastured outside all day, with trees to shade them if they want. That field is rolling, so there is usually a good breeze moving under the trees. Flies are severe in this heat with greenheads and deer flies added to the small ones. Our calves are wearing belled collars with fly tags on, helps a little. Only another week until Fair, then no more 4-H cattle. These two are nice, we're going to miss them.
                          Last edited by goodhors; Jul. 22, 2011, 02:11 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                            Yes, I trimmed today...and yesterday and the day before that. Truly, if there is a more thankless job than a farrier in this type of weather, I am not sure what it is. Since I don't use metal shoes, at least I don't have to use a forge...small blessing. The worst part is the flies on the sweaty miserable horses and trying to hang onto their legs while they twitch and jerk. Seriously, fly spray is about worthless in these conditions.

                            We just got in from moving 85 9 week old meat birds in from the pasture shelter. This is the first time all summer we've had any losses and the third batch we've raised. Poor chooks are still panting and it's 94F heat index now and 84F actual temp. (We have a weather station which is kind of neat so I know exactly what it is at any time).

                            I'm hoping we got them out of there before we lose anymore. Several seemed pretty weak and stressed. They are only a week or two from slaughter so losing them now is a major bummer. We have them in a coop with two fans running tonight. I have some week old broiler chicks in the brooder in the same building and their lamp has not been on for a day or so now. Since they are not fully feathered they are doing Ok.

                            I appreciate the ideas for the cattle. I can try hosing them...see if they like it. I could set up a sprinkler for them also and see if they like it. They seem pretty smart at taking care of themselves so I probably am worrying over it for nothing. I saw the news headlines also about the major losses of cattle in the midwest.

                            My turkeys seem fine as do my ducks. It's interesting to see how the critters deal with the heat. I'd imagine sheep are tough this time of year. I am thinking of getting some so if anyone knows much about managing sheep in heat, it would be interesting to hear about it.

                            Hair sheep would probably be the easiest.

                            Do you have a power washer? Ours puts out a fine mist that feels great on a hot day. Disclaimer:Obviously you do need to be careful how powerful it is and where you aim it
                            Last edited by carolprudm; Jul. 22, 2011, 05:23 PM.
                            I wasn't always a Smurf
                            Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                            "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                            The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              regarding sheep-

                              I was always warned that sheep are "looking for a place to die"..I now call bull hockey..at least in the case of my dorpers.

                              they are, IMO, the absolute BEST breed of sheep for Arid dry hot climates.

                              I have a small flock of them and as I have said, we are on our 35th or 36th consecutive day of over 100 degree temps..they are faring the best out of all my livestock. They rest in the shade, are good drinkers, but I see them out grazing too. They love weeds and are very hardy...and, being hair sheep, they do shed, so they don't over heat!

                              A BIG BIG reason I chose them was due to all of these traits.

                              I know a woman on another board, in VA, was looking for dorper sheep and she was having heck finding ewe lambs in her state...I am not sure how popular they are where you live.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                                Yes, I trimmed today...and yesterday and the day before that. Truly, if there is a more thankless job than a farrier in this type of weather, I am not sure what it is. Since I don't use metal shoes, at least I don't have to use a forge...small blessing. The worst part is the flies on the sweaty miserable horses and trying to hang onto their legs while they twitch and jerk. Seriously, fly spray is about worthless in these conditions.

                                We just got in from moving 85 9 week old meat birds in from the pasture shelter. This is the first time all summer we've had any losses and the third batch we've raised. Poor chooks are still panting and it's 94F heat index now and 84F actual temp. (We have a weather station which is kind of neat so I know exactly what it is at any time).

                                I'm hoping we got them out of there before we lose anymore. Several seemed pretty weak and stressed. They are only a week or two from slaughter so losing them now is a major bummer. We have them in a coop with two fans running tonight. I have some week old broiler chicks in the brooder in the same building and their lamp has not been on for a day or so now. Since they are not fully feathered they are doing Ok.

                                I appreciate the ideas for the cattle. I can try hosing them...see if they like it. I could set up a sprinkler for them also and see if they like it. They seem pretty smart at taking care of themselves so I probably am worrying over it for nothing. I saw the news headlines also about the major losses of cattle in the midwest.

                                My turkeys seem fine as do my ducks. It's interesting to see how the critters deal with the heat. I'd imagine sheep are tough this time of year. I am thinking of getting some so if anyone knows much about managing sheep in heat, it would be interesting to hear about it.
                                i can only think of one job worse in the heat. I would not want to be a refuse management collector (aka garbage man).
                                "Sadly, some people's greatest skill, is being an idiot". (facebook profile pic I saw).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Can you set up a mister in the shade? I've found that having a darker, cool spot is key to my animals and the only way that's happening in this heat is if water is involved.

                                  I let our chickens and ducks out of their pens earlier and they went straight for a wetland area under bushes. They seemed much better than in their coop and runs, despite sun shades ventilation. Our sheep seem better in the shade as well.

                                  Our horses like to hang out inside - if they aren't splashing around in their water!
                                  "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right." -Henry Ford

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by spinandslide View Post
                                    I know a woman on another board, in VA, was looking for dorper sheep and she was having heck finding ewe lambs in her state...I am not sure how popular they are where you live.
                                    A friend of mine has Kathadins (sp?) SW of Charlottesville VA. She does very well selling the meat
                                    I wasn't always a Smurf
                                    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                                    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Some on cattle management in the heat:

                                      http://www.yourcattle.com/members/ar...duce_heat.html

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Thanks for all the ideas and help. Good link Bluey, thanks. I do have troughs and plenty of water but mine is not in shade. I hope one day to fix that.

                                        The large animals did OK today. I could see they were hot but coping.

                                        Even under fans today in my barns I lost a few more chickens. Two broilers and one hen are gone. Damn. The hen was one of my broiler hens I kept with the idea of hatching my own broilers. The larger chickens definitely do not take the heat as well as the smaller standard breeds. In the middle of the day my Wyandotte pullets were running around the yard foraging. I think they are too young to have any sense but they pulled it off.

                                        The ducks and turkeys are coping well. No problems with them. I am researching some misting systems for the future.

                                        Good info on the sheep...I'll check those breeds out. I love lamb and I think we'd have interest for lamb at the farmer's market.

                                        It is 8:30 pm and it's 92F with a heat index of 103F. Such freaking crazy weather even for our area.

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