Protecting livestock from extreme temperatures

Published: Jul. 18, 2019 at 6:22 PM CDT
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The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) issued a reminder on July 16 for pet and livestock owners to protect their animals from extreme heat.

Andy Johnson of Arrowhead Farms in Chippewa Falls has many precautions in place to keep his roughly 1500 cows safe from the high temperatures.

“To keep them cool we have a lot of fans. I think we probably have about 75 fans total on the farm,” Johnson says. “When they come in and get milked they have misters that get them wet and then they go and lie in their beds and dry off and that cools them down.”

Johnson also limits his cows’ activity when heat and humidity strike.

“They still get milked three times per day but that's all we do in the heat. We don't do anything extra with them if we don't have to,” Johnson says. “We kind of leave them alone. It's the best thing for them.”

He says cows can get warm easily.

“They have a hyde on them that keeps them hot like they are wearing a coat year round,” Johnson says. “It'd be like going out and wearing a coat in 90 degree weather.”

His cows also wear collars that alert him if they become overheated, have fevers or if something else is wrong. Johnson also withholds from transporting his cows when it’s too warm outside, another thing DATCP recommends to protect from heat stroke.

DATCP also recommends giving livestock access to plenty of shade and water, providing well-ventilated air space in farms, trucks, barns or any other enclosure and using a water sprinkler to cool animals.

According to DATCP, warning signs of heat stress and stroke for larger animals like cows include restlessness, stumbling, increased heart rate and salivation, panting, collapse, and convulsions. If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately. However the department warns that heat stroke can be fatal for animals, even when treated immediately, so prevention is key.

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