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Farmers sweat the details to keep livestock comfortable in the heat

cattle grazing during summer

Hot days with temperatures 90 degrees and higher means our family takes a dip in the pool to stay cool or finds activities indoors where it’s air conditioned. Just as we adjust our activities to keep our family cool and safe, livestock farmers are also adjusting to keep their animals safe during the soaring temperatures.

Alle Bailey of Diagonal in Ringgold County makes sure her cattle always have access to shade and fresh water in their pasture. She also adjusts her chore time to cooler parts of the day.

That way, she says, “we don’t work them or move them in the heat. We check them early in the morning and later in the day. Otherwise, they’re laying in the shade and won’t get up,” Bailey said. For Craig Recker, who raises cattle in barns in New Vienna in Dubuque County, the key is vigilance.

With larger cattle, almost ready for market, Recker said he keeps a very close eye out. The barns help provide shade and a cooler resting spot for his cattle, but still requires a close watch to make sure the animals are not under stress.

“The buildings really help quite a bit for cooling cattle as long as you can get air moving through there,” Recker said. “You still have to be on the ball watching them, though.” Doing chores is also a bit different during the heat. Recker feeds his cattle twice a day during hot spells and adjusts the rations to compensate for the hotter temperatures.

Livestock farmers work extra in the summer—and when it’s cold and all other weather conditions—to care for their livestock. They understand the importance of plenty of fresh food and lots of water for their livestock, just as my husband and I make sure our family stays hydrated during soaring temps. As livestock farmers provide shade and cozy conditions for their animals, we keep the fans and air conditioning running for our family.

Have questions about animal care during the heat or any weather in Iowa? Visit the Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition’s (IFAC) website at www.iowafarmanimalcare.org. IFAC is the first-of-its-kind network in Iowa, bringing together experienced animal science experts and veterinarians from Iowa State University’s Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Iowa State Veterinarian office at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and farmers. These trained experts serve as members of the IFAC On-Farm Evaluation Team, and share one vision – that every Iowa farm animal receives proper, humane animal care. Whether you have questions about how farm animals are raised, or you’re a farmer looking for some expert advice, IFAC is here to help. Go to www.iowafarmanimalcare.org to learn more.



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