Top five tips for avoiding heat stress  

Patrick DonohoeGeneral News, Producer news

With temperatures set to exceed 30°C this week, the LacPatrick Farm Advisory team offers advice on how to handle stock at this time.

1. Observe stock

It is an obvious thing to say but it is critical to keep a close on all cattle during this weather. Animals heavy breathing or breathing with an open mouth with strong saliva discharge as well as animals refusing to stand up are tell-tale signs that they are under pressure.

Other signs of stress include reduced movement and decreased feed in-take. Farmers should walk through youngstock and drystock a couple of time each day to make sure they are healthy.

2. Keep water nearby

It is critical that all stock have access to water this week. Animals cannot be walking big distances to access water either.

Cows can drink up to 110 litres per day and they can typically drink at a rate of 14 litres per minute from a trough. You don’t want cows walking any further than 300m to access water.

3. Reduce movement

Given that temperatures will get gradually hotter this week, it is important to keep all movements to a minimum. This is not the week to be walking cows a huge distance to the parlour.

If you have to do them, then routines such as vaccinating or dosing should be done during cooler temperatures in the early morning or late evening.

For those farmers who are operating confinement/grazing systems, they should switch around so that they are grazing by night and in by day

4. Spot the shade

The sun is at its hottest and strongest between 11am and 3pm. Obviously, this is the time between the morning and evening milkings.

Therefore, it is advisable to leave the cows in paddocks with plenty of shelter. In this heat, the feed requirement decreases so once you have access to water and plenty of shade, the cows will be healthy and happy.

5. Your own health

Farmers generally put their stock before themselves but, in this weather, you can’t forget your own health too.

The advice from the doctors is to drink plenty of water, apply sunscreen (at least factor 30), try to stay out of the heat at the peak of the day, wear a hat and t-shirt and keep an eye on others.

Children and the elderly should be kept out of the strong sun too.