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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Livestock Heat Preparedness for Extreme Temperatures

    Extreme heat occurs when hot temperatures remain at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three consecutive days at a time, if not longer. Keep your farm animals and livestock safe this summer by knowing how to prevent heat exhaustion and other risks to their health. Tractor Supply, America’s largest rural lifestyle retailer, carries extreme heat supplies not only for humans but also for their furry counterparts. Here, we provide heat safety tips for livestock owners.

    Extreme Heat Solutions for Livestock

    No matter where your farm or property is located in the United States, you are at risk for extreme temperatures during the summer months. To keep your animals safe, comfortable and productive while reducing the risk of heat-related illness, plan in advance with the following tips from Tractor Supply: 

    Prioritize hydration supplies for horses and livestock. 

    For animals, staying cool in heat heavily depends on proper hydration. Make sure every animal has an ample supply of clean and cool drinking water in easy-to-access locations. If you have water systems in place, make sure all elements are functioning correctly and no damage is present. Keep water supplies in the shade, and consider the size of your flock or herd when deciding how many watering locations you should have. 

    In Tractor Supply’s selection of livestock and poultry hydration supplies, find items such as:

    • Stock tanks: Sometimes called water troughs, stock tanks are large receptacles that are ideal for providing water to larger animals. These should be secured so larger animals cannot tip them over. 
    • Automatic waterers: As their name suggests, automatic waterers provide animals with access to fresh drinking water on a set schedule. Up the frequency during extreme heat waves. 
    • Hydration supplements: These products can provide supplemental electrolytes and htrolyteselp prevent dehydration in animals. Consult with your veterinarian to confirm which hydration supplements are right for your livestock. 
    • Rain barrels: These are great to have on hand to collect rainwater from storms, which can be used to cool down animals and provide extra drinking water. Rain barrels are also handy in extreme heat waves as extra watering locations for livestock.
    • Buckets, pails and tubs: Ideal for chickens or smaller farm animals, buckets, pails and tubs can provide extra drinking water or cool animals down. They can also collect rainwater.
    • Misters and sprinklers: Provide extra comfort and cool down overheated animals with the assistance of misters or sprinklers.

    Ensure your livestock get plenty of shade. 

    Hot, sunny weather, especially during extreme heat waves, can make animals susceptible to sunburn. If your property lacks an abundance of naturally shady areas, consider adding animal shelters from Tractor Supply. These textile sheds are constructed from weather-resistant, lightweight and durable materials, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE). They are user-friendly when it comes to assembly, with the kit including everything needed to complete the installation. Depending on your needs, you can also consider other outdoor shade structures from Tractor Supply, including canopies and tents

    Make proper accommodations inside animal shelters or shade structures. 

    Ensure your animal shelter or shade structure provides cross-ventilation, with wind entering from one direction and exiting another. Your shelters or structures should also have enough room to comfortably space out animals. Animal bedding should be dry and clean, which can help to prevent heat buildup and ammonia accumulation. If you have pigs, make sure they also have muddy areas for wallowing. 

    Check that fans and cooling systems are working.

    For indoor livestock areas, ensure that your ventilation and cooling systems are working properly. If you don’t have such equipment, consider installing roof vents, opening windows and investing in fans, such as exhaust fans or industrial fans and blowers. Ensure your cooling systems and fans remain running – even during a heat-related power outage – by adding a generator. Learn more about generator options in Tractor Supply’s generator FAQs

    Practice other cooling techniques to keep your animals comfortable.

    The following are some other best practices for keeping livestock safeguarded from extreme heat:

    • Avoid feeding during the heat of the day – wait until evening.
    • Constantly run fans indoors to control and deter insects.
    • Don’t confine animals, and don’t handle/move them if possible. 
    • Invest in cooling sheets and vests for horses and livestock.
    • Remove areas of stagnant standing water.
    • Utilize livestock-friendly bug spray. 

    Make sure animals have easy access to feed and water. 

    Animals require proper nutrition, as well as hydration, to give them the energy needed to get through extremely hot days. Livestock should have sufficient animal feed and forage available at all times. Make sure their food remains fresh, and remove spoiled food immediately. It’s also advised to feed animals more frequently in smaller amounts during extreme heat. 

    Form an evacuation plan for your livestock and farm animals. 

    If conditions are so severe that you must evacuate your animals to cooler locations, have a comprehensive plan in place. Determine what you’ll do if evacuating, including where to go with your livestock and how you will transport animals. You should also have a livestock evacuation kit ready to go, including the following items:

    Don’t Forget About Outdoor Cats and Dogs

    Dogs and cats are often fixtures on farms and properties in rural areas. Make sure they are prepared for extreme temperatures with Tractor Supply’s selection of cat and dog hydration suppliesdog cooling vests and cooling dog beds, as well as doggy pools. If you have pets outside during extreme heat, keep a careful eye on signs and symptoms of heat illness, which include:

    • Drooling
    • Lack of appetite
    • Rapidly breathing
    • Restlessness or lethargy
    • Severe panting
    • Shaking

    If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it’s strongly advised to seek veterinary attention immediately. Your veterinarian may suggest cooling strategies and symptom monitoring, but in severe cases, animals may need to be hospitalized.

    Recognizing Heat Stress Symptoms in Animals

    Preventing heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses begins with recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat stress in animals. If your animals appear to be in danger, take action immediately to reduce their body temperature and seek veterinary assistance. Move affected animals to cooler areas with more shade, hose them down with cool water, ensure they have plenty of drinking water and closely monitor symptoms. 

    Because extreme heat stresses animals, it’s advised to avoid transporting or handling livestock during severely hot weather. If necessary, animals can be moved during the early morning or later evening hours, when temperatures are cooler. Plan out the most efficient route with watering spots along the way. Moving smaller groups of animals at a time can also help to increase livestock comfort. 

    When extreme heat is in the forecast, keep a careful eye on your animals for red flags, such as:

    Heat Stress Symptoms in Chickens

    • Decreased egg production
    • Erect feathers and/or outstretched wings
    • Increased water consumption
    • Loss of appetite
    • Paler wattles and comb
    • Panting
    • Rapid breathing
    • Soft-shelled eggs
    • Standing still with closed eyes
    • Stumbling, sluggishness and/or lethargy
    • Watery stool

    Heat Stress Symptoms in Cows

    • Aggressiveness and/or agitation 
    • Decreased appetite
    • Higher-than-normal saliva production
    • Increased consumption of water
    • Open-mouth panting
    • Reduced activity and rumination 
    • Restlessness

    Heat Stress Symptoms in Goats

    • Breathing rapidly
    • Heightened rectal temperature over 105 degrees Fahrenheit 
    • Panting continuously
    • Unable to walk or stand 
    • Weakness

    Heat Stress Symptoms in Horses

    • Decreased appetite 
    • Elevated rectal temperature (minimum of 103-107 degrees Fahrenheit)
    • Faster resting heart rate
    • Fatigue or lethargy 
    • Flared nostrils while resting
    • Rapidly breathing
    • Signs of dehydration, including sunken eyes, reduced urine output, tacky gums or loss of elasticity in the skin
    • Skin that is hot to the touch
    • Sweating excessively 

    Heat Stress Symptoms in Pigs

    • Blotchy-looking skin
    • Breathing with an open mouth
    • Higher rate of respiration
    • Reduced appetite
    • Stiffness
    • Tremors in the muscles 
    • Unwillingness to move
    • Vocalization 

    Heat Stress Symptoms in Sheep

    • Acting clumsy 
    • Crowding around waterers or in shady areas
    • Higher heart rate and increased respiration
    • Increased rectal temperatures at or higher than 105-107 degrees Fahrenheit 
    • Lethargy
    • Panting and/or open-mouth breathing 
    • Reduced appetite 
    • Walking aimlessly 

    Frequently Asked Questions About Livestock Heat Preparedness 

    What should I do if my animal shows signs of heat stress?

    If your animal displays the signs and symptoms of heat stress, seek veterinary assistance to help reduce their body temperature. Monitor them until assistance arrives, and provide them with plenty of water. 

    Should I transport livestock during extreme heat? 

    You should avoid transporting livestock when conditions are severely hot. If transport is necessary, do so during the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are less intense. Be sure the route has watering spots so animals stay hydrated along the way. 

    Find Extreme Heat Supplies for Livestock at Tractor Supply

    With over 85 years of experience, Tractor Supply has seen our fair share of extreme heat events. With a commitment to stocking extreme heat supplies from brands we know and trust, our team is here to help you prepare for extreme heat and other severe weather events. To learn more, visit your local Tractor Supply store or browse our selection online. 

    Please note: This information is general and is not intended to replace or override any of the advice, warnings, or information given by local officials, FEMA, NOAA or any other official regulatory organization or government branch regarding storm safety in the form of extreme heat, thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail storms, floods or any other natural disaster or man-made disaster. Always follow take-cover recommendations, evacuation orders and any other advice given by local officials for your area, regardless of whether it is similar to or different from the information on TractorSupply.com.