RSPCA WA REMINDS SMALL LAND HOLDERS AND HOBBY FARMERS OF PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES DURING HEAT WAVE
Hobby farmers, small landholders including owners of chickens, sheep, cattle, horses and goats and livestock producers, are urged to check water quantity and quality during this week's heat wave. Generally, healthy livestock may tolerate a range of temperatures. However, during periods of extreme heat they require added care from shade, shelter and plenty of clean water to stay healthy.
Animals, especially lactating ones, can drink up to 80% more during periods of extreme heat. Animals that are sick, in poor condition, pregnant or young need special attention as they are especially vulnerable to extreme heat and should be housed separately from the main herd/mob.
Under normal conditions, animals maintain their body temperature at a relatively constant level by employing strategies that balance heat production with heat loss (for example, shivering will produce heat whereas panting will help the animal lose heat), however during extremely high temperatures, an animal will struggle to lose excess body heat through evaporation. The situation is exacerbated if humidity is high or if there is no breeze.
Heat stress in animals can be prevented by providing plenty of shade and clean water. Stock movement (on and off farm) and stock handling must be avoided in extreme heat and planned for the cooler parts of the day. Animals housed indoors should have well ventilated facilities with plenty of space for all animals to lie down and access to fresh clean water. Signs of heat stress include panting, increased respiration rate, increased drinking, loss of appetite and lethargy.
It is essential that owners run stock check and monitor their animals daily as well as monitor water supply daily to ensure animals have constant access to clean water. It is important to note that high temperatures increase the evaporation rate of water from troughs and dams so water quality should be also be closely monitored.
Things to remember:
Provide plenty of water, shade and shelter
Check animals at least once a day
Check water quantity and quality at least once a day
Avoid moving animals during extreme heat
Know the signs of heat stress for you animal: panting, increased respiration rate, increased drinking, loss of appetite and lethargy.