During the months of July and August when temperatures here can reach the low to mid 30’s, without the humidity. It is important to keep an eye on livestock to make sure they are staying cool. Follow these quick and easy steps to help keep your animals cool and comfortable during the heat waves, without breaking the bank.
- Chickens don’t always like to go for dips in pools and puddles, but on hot days I’ve seen our girls stand in a shallow water pan to help them cool off. Keep a shallow pan or pool full of a few inches of water and place in shady spots throughout the coop and run areas. If it gets really warm add some ice to the pans to keep the water temperature down. Even if your chickens don’t go in it they will still have access to cool water throughout the day.
- Keep cool treats on hand, freeze a watermelon to offer them. Or other fruit and veggies you know they like.
- If it gets really warm, use the mister on your hose attachment to set up a misting station in your yard. Hang the hose from the coop or a tree to offer relief from the high ground temperatures, this also helps cool down the chickens dust baths.
- In our experience ducks seem to handle the heat better than the chickens, but they also love water. On hot days they will gladly splash around in a kiddie pool of water. Keep the pool clean by changing the water daily and add ice cubes if it’s really warm.
- To help lower the temperature in the duck house we hose down the outside with cold water, using our regular garden hose. You can also hang a tarp over the coop to add extra shade and sun protection.
- Poultry may not eat as much during the heat of the day, make sure to offer them their feed during the cooler mornings and evenings.
- Make sure your goats have access to shady areas in their pasture, either trees or a structure. We have used simple tents in the past to make sure our girls have protection from rain and sun.
- Add ice to their water for a cool drink and make sure they have access to clean fresh water at all times.
- Goats love cool treats as well, cooling some of your herds favorite snacks in the fridge will make you a super star in your goats eyes.
While we do not have rabbits on the homestead right now, we have in the past.
- A frozen water bottle in their cage or enclosure will help keep a rabbits body temperature down, they can choose to lay on it or near it, this works for poultry as well.
- Make sure your rabbits are in a shaded well ventilated area. If you need added air circulation a fan can be positioned towards their cage (this works well for poultry).
- A damp towel or cloth can be placed over the cage to help cool down the air.
During extreme heat waves check your animals regularly during the day and watch for signs of heat stroke or distress.
Signs of heat stress in livestock include:
- Heavy and fast breathing
- Laying still and being lethargic
- Warm/hot ears and feet
- Inability to stand
- Flared wings, beaks open, panting
Be prepared to intervene if you notice any livestock in distress. This may include dipping poultry in a cool water bath to lower their body temperature. Goats can be cooled down by rubbing cool wet cloths in between their legs or on their legs. Bring your animal into a shaded well ventilated area and closely monitor. If the animal does not improve contact your veterinarian for guidance and assistance.
How do you keep your animals cool?
Note: I am not a veterinarian, this article is for information purposes only, it is not meant to diagnose any illness or injury. Contact a vet if you have serious concerns about the welfare of your animals.