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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Shelter to prevent livestock heat stress

Protecting Livestock During Extreme Weather Conditions

Ensuring the welfare of livestock is paramount for owners and managers, especially during harsh weather conditions. Providing adequate shelter plays a crucial role in mitigating heat stress and minimizing production losses. By offering shelter, animals can conserve energy typically expended on regulating body temperature.

Flick Searle, an Animal Health Officer at Agriculture Victoria, emphasized the importance of recognizing behavioral signs of heat stress in livestock. These signs include elevated respiration rate, panting, increased salivation, listlessness, and lethargy. Addressing heat stress involves moving affected animals into shaded areas and providing clean, cool water. If symptoms persist despite these measures, seeking veterinary assistance or considering humane euthanasia is essential.

Searle highlighted the necessity for accessible shelter that shields animals from the sun while facilitating air movement. Suitable options include trees with expansive canopies, shade cloth structures, and sheds with open sides. Additionally, special consideration should be given to vulnerable livestock groups, such as the young, old, or sick, whose ability to regulate body temperature is compromised.

During periods of elevated temperatures, livestock may flock to shelter areas, underscoring the need for sufficient shelter capacity. Overcrowded shelters can exacerbate heat stress, leading to animals bunching up and potentially causing harm. Therefore, maintaining adequate shelter space is critical to prevent heat-related incidents.

Above all, providing shade, water, and rest during the hottest times of the day remains the most effective means of safeguarding animal welfare during extreme heat events.

For further guidance on caring for animals during extreme weather, visit: https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/live-stock-health-and-welfare/caring-for-animals-during-extreme-heat.

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