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August 4, 2014
Shade structures do not need to be expensive or complicated. This calf hutch provides
adequate shade for adult goats. (UAPB image)
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Hot weather affects animals, too. “I am always amazed by the number
of people who ask ‘Do animals really need shade?’” says Dr. David Fernandez, Cooperative
Extension Program livestock specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Providing shade and cool water can reduce productivity losses and make animals more
comfortable, he says. As the days get hotter, animals spend less time grazing and
drink more water, says Fernandez.
Animals gain heat two ways – conduction and radiation. Conduction is heat transferred
from an object to an animal when they touch. Animals lying on hot ground are warmed
as the hot ground transfers heat to their bodies.
Radiation from the sun heats animals’ bodies by increasing the energy in the molecules
of their bodies when it strikes them and is absorbed. Darker colored animals absorb
more heat than lighter colored animals, says Fernandez. Some animals have light colored
hair but dark colored skin, so they can become warm much faster than you think, he
Animals generate heat as they metabolize feed and move. Between internal heat generation
and external warming on hot days, animals can overheat. Overheating causes them to
go off feed, increases heart and respiration rates, impairs weight gain and causes
reproductive failure especially in males.
Heat stress also suppresses the immune system resulting in outbreaks of diseases such
as pneumonia during especially hot weather. Severely affected animals can become weak
and unable to stand. Extremely elevated temperatures of more than 107 degrees Fahrenheit,
can result in death.
Shade helps animals keep cool. Animals keep cool in a variety of ways. They reduce
their activity and seek shade where they often can be found lying down. They may pant,
or in the cases of horses or Brahman cattle, they sweat.
Drinking cool water also helps. The water should be as cool you as you can manage,
says Fernandez. Simply erecting a shade over the water trough or tank makes the water
Sheep with an inch or so of wool are cooler than freshly shorn sheep and less likely
to get a sunburn. If growers must shear their sheep, Fernandez advises doing so in
the spring so the wool has a chance to grow a little.
Avoid working animals in the hottest part of the day. Increased activity can overheat
their already hot bodies and cause heat stress. Most farm animals are well adapted
to both the heat and cold of Arkansas. They just need shade and cool water to stay
well and comfortable, says Fernandez.
For more information, contact Fernandez at (870) 575-7214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human
Sciences offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national
origin, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected
status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Carol Sanders, writer/editorUAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences(870) email@example.com