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HomeFeaturesAgricultureExtension Notes: Help livestock thrive in summer weather

Extension Notes: Help livestock thrive in summer weather

By: Rebecca Konopka
Carter County Extension Agent

Summer is here and we’ve already experienced the heat and humidity. People aren’t the only ones who suffer when the temperatures rise. Farm animals feel it, too. You can recognize when livestock may be in danger from the heat and what you can do to increase their comfort.

Livestock become uncomfortable when the heat index reaches about 90 degrees. The heat index is a combination of air temperature and humidity and is used to describe how it feels outside.

The University of Kentucky Agricultural Weather Center regularly monitors heat indices across the state and provides an index of its own – the Livestock Heat Stress Index – to help producers know when heat stress could create a problem for their animals. The county-by-county index indicates three levels of heat stress: no stress, danger stress and emergency stress.

Periods of heat stress call for livestock producers to be vigilant in making sure their animals are adequately prepared. One of the most important things you can do is provide cool, clean drinking water. Providing an adequate source of drinking water helps keep animals’ internal body temperatures within normal limits. You should shade above-ground water lines so they do not act as solar water heaters and make the water too hot to drink.

It is also important for animals to have shade and for buildings to be as open as much as possible for adequate ventilation. Sprinkler systems that periodically spray a cool mist on the animals can also be beneficial.

It is best to avoid working your animals during periods of heat stress. You should also avoid transporting livestock during those times. When you must transport livestock, haul fewer animals per load. Plan trips so you can load animals immediately before leaving and quickly unload upon arrival to help minimize the risk.

To keep up-to-date with the livestock heat stress index, access the Agricultural Weather Center’s website http://wwwagwx.ca.uky.edu or go to the Carter County Cooperative Extension Service’s website https://carter.ca.uky.edu/anr and click on the weather link.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Upcoming Events:

  • The Grayson Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays from 9:00 AM until sell out. The market is located in the shed behind the Extension Office. The Olive Hill Farmer’s Market is located in the Save-a-Lot parking lot and is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays at 8:00 AM and Mondays at 3:00 PM until sell out each day.
  • Farmer’s Market Kid’s Days will be on July 29th from 9:30-11:00 at the Grayson Farmer’s Market. There will be a variety of activities for youth to participate in and earn Kid’s Bucks to be spent at the market.


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