Keeping Livestock Cool

Pet Care Pet Health Pets Posted Feb 2, 2021
Sometimes we can forget that horses, cows and other livestock need proper shade and access to clean water. In the warmer months especially, it’s important to keep your livestock cool and protected from heat stress.

Here’s our top tips for all the farmyard animals you might own.

shady stable

Tips for Livestock
  • Ensure your chooks have access to plenty of shade, large containers of water in the shade, and wet the dirt in the shade, as they will enjoy rooting in the wet ground. You can also offer them ice blocks and ice cubes in their water.
  • For larger livestock species, such as cattle, sheep and goats, ensure they always have access to water and shade. Never move them around unnecessarily in the heat of the day and give them a rest from working dogs.
  • Horses should also have access to water and shade during the summer, and they shouldn’t be ridden, trained or worked in high temperatures.
white duck
Heat Stress Symptoms
  • Panting
  • Seeking a cool/shady spot
  • Excessive salivation
  • Enlarging tongue
  • Red gums/lips
  • Increasing heart rate
  • Anxious or distressed demeanour
  • Staggering

cow in sun

If the animal’s high temperature is not relieved, their condition quickly worsens. They may start to display more severe symptoms of heat stress which include:

  • Very rapid heart rate
  • Circulation shutdown
  • Trembling/seizures/falling down
  • Respiratory distress
  • Vomit with blood
  • Diarrhoea with blood
  • Coma

If an animal has heat stress, prompt action is needed. First Aid measures should be applied quickly and the animal must then be transported to a veterinarian immediately. Never transport an animal while they are still hot. Cooling them down first is essential. Bathing the animal in cool (not cold) water is one of the best ways to cool them down, or apply cool packs to the groin and underarm area, or place them in front of a fan or in an air conditioned room. The animal should also be offered cool, fresh water to bring their temperature down. Once they are cool, always take them to the vet as they may have internal damage from the heat stress.

Read more about livestock and shade on the RSPCA Knowledgebase here.

Sam Morris
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