Producers with livestock in confinement can take steps to prevent heat stress during periods of high temperatures, elevated humidity, low wind speeds and high solar radiation. Veterinarians and animal scientists say effective strategies include feeding schedules that avoid the internal heat build-up animals experience with normal digestion during the hottest part of the day. Increasing airflow around confined areas by taking down winter windbreaks, including hay barriers, will provide relief, as will providing shade where possible. The use of light-colored bedding, such as chopped hay or straw, will help reduce the heat load on animals. Consider the use of additional water tanks as summer intake is greater than normal.
Wetting pen surfaces and animals can be effective if done in a manner that doesn’t increase humidity. When wetting animals, experts suggest using large droplets, not a fine mist. They recommend saturating hair for maximum cooling.
To help livestock producers better prepare for periods of extreme heat, the KLA website has a link to daily heat stress maps from the National Weather Service. These maps will help producers be aware of and understand weather conditions that could adversely affect livestock health.