Weather conditions over the next few days may lead to high temperatures, elevated humidity, low wind speeds and high solar radiation in some areas, which can put livestock at risk for heat stress. Veterinarians and animal scientists say effective strategies for mitigating heat stress include feeding schedules that avoid the internal heat build-up animals experience with normal digestion during the hottest part of the day. Increasing airflow around confined areas by taking down winter windbreaks, including hay barriers, will offer relief, as will providing shade where possible. The use of light-colored bedding, such as chopped hay or straw, will help reduce the heat load on animals. Additionally, producers should consider the use of additional water tanks as summer intake is greater than normal. Avoiding intentional movement of animals is recommended as well.
Wetting pen surfaces and animals also can be effective if done in a manner that does not increase humidity. When wetting animals, experts suggest using large droplets, not a fine mist, to saturate the hair coat as this provides maximum cooling.
To help producers further prepare for periods of extreme heat now and throughout the summer months, www.kla.org has a link under the Resources section to daily heat stress maps from the National Weather Service. To view the maps, click here.