Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Heat stress

Last week, Maryland recorded some of the highest temperatures in the country.  High temperatures (and humidity) can affect the productivity (and welfare) of sheep, goats, and other livestock and in extreme cases cause their death or contribute to other causes of death.

Shade structure at Univ. of Kentucky
Signs of heat stress (stroke or exhaustion) include continual panting, rapid breathing, weakness, inability to stand, and an elevated rectal temperature (over 105 degrees F).  The goal of treatment is to lower body temperature. 

Affected livestock should be moved to a cool, shaded area with plenty of air circulation. They should be offered cool water. The best way to cool sheep is to apply rubbing alcohol to the area between their rear legs.  The sheep's fleece should not be wetted, as this will prevent cooling.

Some livestock handle heat better than others.  Sheep and goats tend to be more heat tolerant than other farm animals. The key to preventing heat stress and loss of productivity is to provide plenty of fresh, cool, clean water and to give livestock access to ample shade.  Livestock housing should have good ventilation and air movement.

It goes without saying that livestock should not be handled or transported during the heat of the day. They should be allowed to rest.

Read full article:  Heat Stress in Sheep and Goats

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