Keeping your animals cool in the summer heat can be a stressful thing.
There is only so much you can do and it is a fine line you have to walk with some animals.
We are able to make changes when we are feeling overheated. But what about our 4 legged critters around the farm? Here are some ideas to help you keep them cool during the hottest times of the year.
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These tips will be helpful for most of the animals so don’t dismiss these ideas for your dogs or other indoor pets as well as cattle or other large animals. I realize if you have large herds this might be difficult but doing what you can, will help prevent loss of livestock.
Keep Your Animals Cool With The Right Positioning
You may not have a lot of options depending on your property but if you have a choice think about where you keep their shelter where they will be spending most of their time. Whether it is in a barn, lean-to or pasture, try to position their living space in the shade as much as possible. Even if you can’t have the entire area in the shade try to have the shelter or some part of their enclosure in the shade.
Trees are nature’s cooling system and I was blessed to have the space to have all of my rabbit herd under a canopy of trees. When I walk from one part of the yard to the area where they are I can feel the temperatures drop several degrees and it is far less humid. There is no way I could keep this herd alive in the heat of summer without having some kind of shade.
Related post: How to find the best outdoor cage for rabbits.
So with that said, if you can be choosy about where they are, take advantage of that and watch the movement of the sun throughout the day as well.
Keep Your Animals Cool Fans
This is the next thing that will help you keep your animals cool. Whether it is a cattle fan, an old window box fan or personal size ten-dollar fan you can use these with any animals.
I have a rig that was borderline a death trap of cords for anyone over 5 feet tall but with a few hooks and zip ties, you can run extension cords to each fan without having a spider web to dodge during the feeding time.
Here are some of the fans that are great for large animals & tools I am currently using.
- Cattle Fan – 36inch cattle fan – 18inch wall mount
- Box Fan – Can be found at your local home supply store.
- Personal Fan – Can be found at your local home supply store.
- Outdoor Extension Cord
- Plug Extender/divider – Can be found at your local home supply store.
- Zip Ties – Can be found at your local home supply store.
- Hooks – Can be found at your local home supply store.
This is mainly for the smaller livestock but there are so many different things you can stick in the freezer to help your animals out. The most common is to fill bottles or jugs with water and freeze them. Another neat thing you can do is freeze stone or ceramic floor tile and put them with the animals to lay on.
I have heard of people freezing the feed but unless it is all-grain you will run into the pelleted feed getting moist and getting mushy as it thaws and most animals won’t eat that. So if you just use sweet feed or scratch grain you would be fine.
Have A Body Of Water
Cattle (and of course waterfowl) love to hang out in a pond during the heat of the day. So if you have a pond or creek you can give them access to that will be a big help.
If you have a small flock of birds then a kiddy pool or two will be greatly appreciated by your feathered friends. I water my large rabbits with big blows so on occasion I will catch them soaking their ears in their bowls.
Otherwise, if those are not options a mister is a great alternative. You might have to work with the animals to get used to the slight spray of water but once they realize it feels good they don’t fight it.
Signs Your Animal Is Overheated
So how do we know if our critters are feeling a little on the warms side? If you have had animals for any length of time you will learn to read them well. It just comes with part of being an animal raiser. But here are some things to watch out for.
Signs That Rabbits Are Overheated
Excessive panting and laying on their sides is a clear sign they are getting warm. What many don’t know is their ears their cooling system and thermometer. So when keeping an eye on your rabbits in the heat feel their ears to see how hot they really are. Sometimes they are panting heavily but their body temp is not as bad as it might seem.
You can also use a spray bottle and mist the tops of their ears (not in the ear canal) to help them cool down. If you raise a lop-eared rabbit breed you will likely find them dipping their ears in their water bowl on their own if you use bowls instead of bottles.
Your chickens and other animals will let you know when they are feeling hot.
The most common one other the obvious heavy breathing is seeing them with their wings hanging loosely over their sides. Normally they are held close to their body but if they are feeling warm they will hang loose.
Here are some more tips for keeping chickens cool in the summer heat.
These species will vary a little but if your animals are breathing heavily through their mouth instead of their nose or acting lethargic you know they are beginning to overheat. Going off feed or not eating as much is also a good indicator.
Prevention is easier than having to save an animal from heatstroke. Pay attention to the weather (here is my favorite site to keep an eye on the weather) in your area and take propositions to be ready for it.