Brooke Beam, Ph.D.
Ohio State University Extension, Highland County
Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator
July 18, 2018
Whew! July has been a hot month with temperatures between 80°F and 90°F. While humans have the ability to beat the heat with access to air conditioning, most animals do not. Heat stress isn’t just a consideration for people, but for animals as well. When temperatures “exceed 77-78°F, most animals will suffer from heat stress” (Zhao, 2014, p. 1).
Animals of all kinds, including livestock and domesticated pets, are susceptible to heat stress. Symptoms of heat stress include “elevated respiration rates, abnormal body temperatures, feed avoidance, playing with water and crowding into shaded areas” (Zhao, 2014, p. 1).
There are several strategies you can implement in order to assist your animals during periods of higher temperatures. Provide your animals with the opportunity to increase their consumption of fresh, clean water. Supply adequate shade to block “the solar radiation heat that falls on animals” (Zhao, 2014, p. 2). Providing cool surfaces for animals to lay on is also a good strategy to prevent heat stress. Circulation or cooling fans can also be beneficial because “in high-temperature environments, high-speed air movement is needed to increase heat loss of animals” (Zhao, 2014, p. 3).
With livestock animals, heat stress can cause economic impacts due to decreases in production performance, health impacts, and in some cases higher mortality rates. The comfort zones for layers is between 55°F and 70°F. Pigs prefer temperatures to be between 50°F and 70°F, while the comfort zone for cattle is 40°F to 60°F.
By incorporating strategies to decrease the impacts of heat stress, you and your animals can have a more enjoyable and profitable summer. Remember water, shade, and circulation of air are key factors to help prevent heat stress during warm weather.
References: Zhao, L. (2014). Abate Animal Heat Stress in Hot Weather. Retrieved from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/AEX-151