Summer is one of the busiest times for the livestock business. Whether you run a dairy, a commercial ranch showing racehorses, or a poultry farm, the warm weather brings about its own unique set of challenges for every farm owner and manager. While summertime makes farming easier in some aspects, there are several issues you need to see to before the days get longer and hotter.
The first thing you need to worry about during the summer is pest control. Depending on where you live, the warmer weather could bring about all sorts of pests from coyotes to West Nile-bearing mosquitoes. As the weather gets warmer, you need to lay out a game plan for how to handle whatever pests you most often get on your property.
If your farm often deals with small animals like foxes, coyotes, or even wolves, you may want to get a livestock guardian dog to watch your property. If your main issue is bugs, look into different fly control for livestock solutions. Before the summer heat ever hits, evaluate what your main pest is and find the best way to resolve it.
The second problem you’ll need to solve for your livestock is cooling. Summer days can get excruciatingly hot, especially on commercial farms where there may not be many trees to break the direct line of light. The last thing you want is your animals getting sick from heat or sun exposure and not enough water.
If your livestock spends most of their time outside, make sure plenty of fresh, cool water is available. For cows and horses, it’s often recommended to have 2 gallons per 100 pounds of body weight. You may need to have multiple troughs on your pastures, as well as fresh water available indoors with electrolytes to replenish minerals lost in your animals’ sweat. While your water bill may go up during the summer heat, it’s cheaper than dealing with heat sickness throughout your herds.
The third thing to worry about when summer sets in is adapted shelter needs for your livestock. Depending on whether your farm is free to roam or not, you might have small shelters already built in your fields. When summer comes around, it may be time to update these buildings slightly. Adding a few things to each run can help your animals stay healthy, even on the hottest days.
While there may be three walls and a roof for your animals to run into, summer accommodations should also include mineral licks, fresh water, and feed. Even on the cooler summer days, your animals are losing electrolytes and minerals through their sweat faster than they can replenish it through simple roughage. By providing grain, high-quality second-cutting hay, and salt licks or powder for your livestock, you can help them accommodate for the nutrients the heat sapped from them.
To sum things up, keeping your livestock comfortable through summer just takes a little bit of forethought and preparation. By stocking up and ensuring your animals have what they need, you can keep them healthy through even the hottest days.