Iowa’s continued heat wave isn’t just the subject of conversation at swimming pools and office water coolers; it’s also a concern on Iowa’s livestock farms. Iowa’s farmers work around the clock to keep their animals safe, no matter the conditions.
“Dog owners know that they can’t leave their pets in a hot car, even for a moment, because when temperatures climb, a pet can suffer brain damage or even death in as little as 15 minutes. But, livestock farmers around the state are also keeping a watchful eye on their animals, because disaster can strike in minutes, without proper care,” says Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition (IFAC) Executive Director, Denny Harding.
IFAC is a network of professionals, veterinarians, animal behavior scientists, and farmers committed to answering Iowans’ questions about farm animal care and ensuring that one vision is shared by all - that every Iowa farm receives proper, humane animal care.
Management is key for Iowa farmers, and thanks to technology and innovative animal housing, livestock are more comfortable than ever before. That’s because many of today’s modern hog barns are climate-controlled to allow for constantly-regulated temperatures, continuous air flow, ventilation, and individual water delivery systems.
Leon Sheets, an Iowa hog farmer, has had a first-hand view of the swine industry in Iowa for many years and through a variety of perspectives. He says there are many types of livestock housing; the key is having a system that’s predictable, controllable, and balanced. “How to balance the environmental factors affecting your hogs should be something everyone considers when trying to decide which production system is most fitting for them. The inside, climate controlled facility system is, indeed, my choice as it allows me the most control and predictability. On those stifling summer days when the outdoor temperature and humidity levels fluctuate, I am able to temper the environment in my barn to keep my animals more comfortable. I do so with shade availability, ventilation and air flow systems, and water misting systems. That’s the advantage for animals raised on today’s innovative livestock farms,” says Sheets.
Today’s farmers keep a watchful eye on their herds for signs of heat stress, and move fast to treat it appropriately. Iowa farmers frequently consult their veterinarians to ensure proper prevention and care to keep their livestock at an optimum level of health; an especially important practice for Iowa cattle farmers who keep their animals on pasture throughout the summer months.
Iowa State Veterinarian, Dr. David Schmitt, says, “Iowa livestock farmers know their animals and do a tremendous job caring for them regardless of what the Iowa weather throws at them. During the hot summer months it is very important farmers closely monitor their animals, whether they are raised in a building or outside. Animals need to have adequate water and access to shade to help them weather the extremely high temperatures. It is also important farmers remain in close contact with their veterinarian who can also provide more information and answer questions.”
It is clear; Iowa farmers work diligently to provide the best care possible to their livestock, despite difficult weather conditions. But, if you have questions about livestock care in Iowa’s ever-changing weather, visit the Iowa Farm Animal Care website at: http://www.iowafarmanimalcare.org/.