Resources help protect farm animals from summer heat

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Humans are not the only ones that suffer from the heat of summer.  Farm animals feel the heat too.  With summer temperatures already upon us, it is time to think about ways to know when your livestock may be in danger from the heat and what to do to reduce their plight.

The University of Kentucky Agricultural Weather Center provides warnings of the potential danger to livestock.  Livestock become uncomfortable when the heat index reaches about 90 degrees. The heat index is a combination of air temperature and humidity and is used to describe how it feels outside.

The Agricultural Weather Center regularly monitors heat indices across the state and provides an index of its own – the Livestock Heat Stress Index – to help producers know when heat stress could create a problem for their animals. The county-by-county index indicates three levels of heat stress: no stress, danger stress and emergency stress.

Periods of heat stress call for livestock producers to be vigilant in making sure their animals are adequately prepared. One of the most important things producers can do is provide cool, clean drinking water. Providing an adequate source of drinking water helps to keep animals’ internal body temperatures within normal limits. Above-ground water lines should be shaded so they do not act as solar water heaters and make the water too hot to drink.

It is also important for animals to have shade and for buildings to be as open as possible for adequate ventilation. Sprinkler systems that periodically spray a cool mist on the animals can also be beneficial.

It is best to avoid working animals during periods of heat stress. 

Producers should also avoid transporting livestock during high levels of heat stress.

When livestock must be transported, haul fewer animals per load.  Planning trips so the animals can be loaded immediately before leaving and unloaded quickly upon arrival can likewise help minimize the risk.

Producers who want to keep up-to-date with the livestock heat stress index can access the Agricultural Weather Center’s website (weather.uky.edu) or go Christin’s weather portion of the Carroll County Extension Service’s website (ces.ca.uky.edu/carroll/countyweather). Click on the top link, Agricultural Weather Outlook, and scroll down to the weather chart.

The final entry on the chart is the Livestock Heat Stress Index for Carroll County.

For more information about heat stress or navigating the website, contact the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service at (502) 732-7030.


Dates of interest

June 7: Mandatory 4-H Camp counselor training, 6 p.m., Kenton County Extension Office.

June 13:Carroll County Agricultural Development Council and Fund Inc. meeting, 8 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.


June 19:Final 4-H Camp Orientation, 6 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office. If a 4-H Camper was unable to attend the first orientation on May 31, then he or she must attend this orientation to attend camp.


Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.