Four things every farmer should do to protect animals and themselves during the heatwave
With temperatures forecast to hit as high as 30C this week and speculation that this could be the hottest June since 1976, it' more important than ever that farmers look after their animals welfare as well as their own.
1. Water supply
Enough fresh drinking water is vital for your animals to remain hydrated and healthy during the hot weather. Dairy cows can drink up to 150 litres of water a day, while cattle weighing 600kg drink up to 65 litres.
Keeping water cool and well stocked is also important. Where possible keep your water troughs in the shade so animals aren’t drinking water that has been in the sun for hours.
Irish Water have stated that arrangements will be put in place for farmers reliant on public water supplies during the current spell of fine weather.
2. Heat stress
Over heating in animals can lead to under performance and illness if it isn’t detected and treated fast.
Signs that an animal may be too hot include panting, increased water intake, appetite loss, increased salvation, lethargic behaviour and increased breathing. Young, sick or with livestock with a history of respiratory problems should be monitored closely during the hot weather as they may be more susceptible to heat stress.
While you may have a fine tuned grazing plan in place, during the hot spell of weather it would be worthwhile to consider putting your animals in the paddocks with the most access to shade. Trees are the best natural shade resource.
If your paddocks are lacking trees or maybe they were destroyed during Storm Ophelia or the 'Beast from the East' it would be a good idea to plant trees that will provide shade and plenty oxygen for your animals in the years to come.
4. Handling animals
While animals in heat are unpredictable, hot animals as a result of the weather are just as unpredictable. Where possible during extremely hot weather you should avoid moving cattle and if so do it in the morning when it is most cool to avoid aggravation and potential accidents
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