Summer temperatures in Tennessee remain uncomfortably high, and that extreme heat can create risks for livestock.
“Excessive heat can lead to poor health or even death of livestock,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “Producers should take extra precautions during the summer to reduce stress and support hydration for animals in their care.”
It’s critical to provide livestock with access to cool, clean drinking water year-round. However, animals require more water during hot weather. Consider adding additional water sources and make sure water delivery systems are working properly.
Shade is important, too. Livestock is susceptible to sunburn, particularly on their ears, nose, and areas of pink skin. Trees or buildings can offer shade and, if livestock is housed indoors, ventilation can be improved by installing fans, opening windows, or adding roof vents.
During excessive temperatures, additional safeguards for livestock include:
Utilizing water sprinklers to keep animals cool
Controlling insects by running fans, eliminating standing water, and using bug spray
Planning for potential power outages
Feeding later in the day
Limiting handling and transportation
“In addition to preventative measures, livestock producers should familiarize themselves with the signs of heat-related illness,” Dr. Beaty added. “Animals should be regularly monitored for signs of possible dehydration and heat stress.”
Symptoms may include increased breathing rate, panting or open-mouthed breathing, and drooling. Muscle weakness and lethargy can also signal serious health issues.
If you notice signs of heat stress in your livestock, contact your veterinarian immediately. Move the animal or animals to a cool, shaded area and provide access to water. Overheated animals can be cooled off by applying cool water with a hose.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division is responsible for promoting animal health in Tennessee. The state veterinarian’s office seeks to prevent the spread of disease through import and movement requirements, livestock traceability, disaster mitigation, and the services of the C.E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory.