In a heat wave expected to roll across the Inland Northwest next week, daytime temperatures will spike above 100 degrees from Spokane to Seattle. Livestock and pets are at risk from extreme heat, Washington State University Extension experts warn.
“Our animals depend on us,” said Don Llewellyn, WSU associate professor and livestock extension specialist. “Livestock owners, farmers, and youth raising animals for 4-H and similar projects should prepare for heat and dangerous conditions.”
While different livestock and pet species have specific needs, Extension experts share general suggestions to keep animals safe.
Avoid stressful handling of livestock. If necessary, only do so in the early morning hours or late in the evening.
Ensure animals in barns or sheds have proper ventilation and air circulation.
Provide shade to animals kept outside, if possible.
Provide a continuous supply of cool, clean water. Water is very important, allowing animals’ bodies to cool off and stay cool. Sufficient water is particularly important for animals that are lactating or pregnant, to ensure health of nursing young as well as newborn animals.
Watch for signs of dehydration, such as lethargy, drying of the mucous membranes and eyes, or eyes that appear sunken and dull.
Clean water is also important. Excessive heat and stagnant water can promote blue-green algae growth, which has shown to be toxic to livestock, wildlife, and humans.
In times of heat stress, it may be necessary to reduce energy intake, such as from grains and concentrates, and increase fiber in the diets of animals such as 4-H steers and lambs. This can help mitigate heat stress.
The following table provides insight into the amount of water and feed required by livestock.