Strategies to Beat the Heat Around the Farm This Summer
With summer temperatures blanketing much of the country, chances are that both you and your animals are feeling the heat. In order to help your horses, chickens, cows, goats, and other farm animals cope with the summertime heat, put these tips to work on your farm.
Change to Nighttime Turnout
For larger animals, like horses, changing to a nighttime turnout schedule can offer relief from the worst heat of the day. As long as your barn stays cool during the daytime, consider leaving your horses inside, then turning them out once temperatures drop at the end of the afternoon.
Nighttime turnout offers a few additional benefits, too. The bugs aren’t as active at night, and if your horse is prone to sunburn, you don’t have to worry about applying sunscreen. Plus, the sun’s rays won’t bleach your horse’s coat out, which is a major advantage if you compete your horse.
Use Barn Fans
We’ve all seen barns equipped with box fans in front of each stall, or chicken coops with a box fan in the corner, but did you know that this practice can create a fire hazard? House fans aren’t intended for use in barns or coops, and their motors can become clogged with dust and can burn out, causing hot pieces to fall out of the fan and potentially start a fire.
Instead, buy fans with fully enclosed motors only, that are designed for agricultural use. You can find these at most feed stores, or you can order them online. These fully enclosed motors are specifically designed to withstand the significant dust in barns and help to minimize the risk of fire because parts of the motor can’t fall out.
Keep Animals Drinking
Water intake is important for all of your animals, but especially as the temperatures climb. Make your horses’ water tempting by putting a bit of apple juice into it, or make their feed into a watery mash to ensure added intake. Beet pulp shreds and pellets, as well as forage pellets and cubes can both be soaked to increase a horse’s water intake.
You can also add a bit of salt to a horse’s feed to encourage them to drink. And, of course, make sure that your animals always have access to cool, clean water.
Offer Special Treats
Provide special summertime treats to help keep your animals cool. Chickens and ducks will appreciate vegetables like peas (chickens will eat frozen peas, but defrost them for ducks), as well as cold watermelon.
Have a farm dog? Put some ice cubes in his water dish for a cool treat. Just make sure that your dog doesn’t bolt down his water unusually quickly when there’s ice in it. If a dog gets too enthusiastic about this treat, he could potentially swallow too much air in the process, causing bloat. Most dogs do just fine with ice cubes, but only offer this treat under supervision.
Hose Off – the Right Way
Hosing off a hot horse will help him cool down, but only if you do it the right way. Just hosing your horse off and leaving him to stand can actually make him hotter, because the water layer actually insulates him. Instead, hose your horse, scrape off the water, and repeat the process until the water that you’re removing from your horse is cool.
Hot summer months mean your animals need a bit of extra care in order to stay cool. Once you’re done, make sure that you enjoy some time in the shade to rehydrate, too!