Martok
July 14, 2009
There are many methods for animals to keep cool when the weather gets hot
Carlotta tries to stay cool.

We live in the Ozarks where it’s humid and hot.

Heat indices have been in the hundreds already for weeks. Here are some of the things Mom does to keep us cool.

  • She makes sure we have plenty of outdoor shade. It’s too hot to be in our metal Port-a-Huts this time of year.

  • We eat early in the morning before it gets really hot and again in late evening past the heat of the day.
  • Cool drinking water is very important. She wants us to drink as much as we can, so she puts extra water containers wherever we loaf in the shade. She scrubs them every day and she partially dumps and refills them with cold water when the water gets hot.
  • She also freezes big “ice cubes” in plastic food containers like butter and cheese spread tubs and she drops ice cubes in our water containers throughout the afternoon. The horses and calves have a big water trough, so she freezes water in plastic milk jugs and drops the jugs in their tank, then refreezes them again overnight.
  • This time of year we don’t do anything rigorous through the heat of the day. The horses don’t get hauled or ridden and Mom and Dad deworm us and trim our hooves before hot weather sets in.  
  • Some of us have our own box fans, like the dairy goats and the mama ewes whose lambs are being weaned. The llamas have several fans and a big wet spot in their shelter to lie on (Mom or Dad hose it down with cold water twice a day.
  • Some of the horses, the llamas and Ludo the water buffalo love it when Mom or Dad sprays them with cold water from the hose (we goats hate to be sprayed!).

    If you spray an animal, start at his feet and work up the legs, then do his neck and shoulders saving the back and butt for last; that way he can get used to the cold more gradually. If he has long hair like the llamas do, be sure to saturate his coat all the way down to the skin; otherwise the wet outer layer traps body heat and makes the llama hotter instead of cooling him down.

    Don’t spray water in his face unless he likes it (our horse Imbir’ does) and even then, don’t spray it into his ears.

Sheep and long-haired goats and llamas and alpacas are especially prone to heat stress and they should be shorn before hot weather sets in.

Mom also keeps plenty of ice cubes in the freezer to help cool down anyone who overheats. To do that, Mom and Dad pack ice cubes underneath the overheated animal, especially in the armpits and groin. Then they hose him down with cold, cold water until he feels okay again.

Small creatures like chickens go in the house where it’s air conditioned, into a dog crate with a fan trained on it. Once they’re cool, they stay inside to recuperate a bit before rejoining their friends outside.

It’s important for humans to stay cool too, otherwise who will chill our water, feed us and scratch our chins? That’s what I’ll talk about next week: what humans on a hobby farm can do to stay cool.

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