Is the heatwave affecting your livestock?

Average temperatures across the UK are on the rise, prompting a warning for farmers to monitor the temperatures of their sheds more closely, paying particular attention to dairy sheds and broilers to help avoid Heat Stress in animals.

Heat stress is caused by an animal’s inability to dissipate enough heat to maintain homeothermy, which can affect their production and wellbeing due to an increase in air temperature.

According to DEFRA, an increase in body temperature of just 4°C can result in death of chickens, while temperatures of just 23°C and above can prove problematic for cows.

Duncan Burl, of ventilation and heating specialist Hydor, said: “The soaring temperatures can prove a challenge to livestock.

“Productivity can decline at temperatures from 25°C upwards in the average cow and even lower in high yielding animals, so it’s essential that careful monitoring of heat levels takes place regularly during the hotter months.”

It is recommended to look out for key warning signs of heat stress in animals, such as; increased water consumption, panting and drooling in cows, chickens with raised wings or those that are avoiding other birds, feed consumption, production efficiency (e.g. milk or egg yield) and growth rate.

In addition to regular monitoring, effective and well-maintained ventilation can improve atmospheric conditions for animals in sheds, with outdated or faulty ventilation equipment often being the cause for many temperature spikes.

Finally, it is important to consider restricting the movement of livestock, or at least look to do this at earlier cooler times of day, in the interest of not only your livestock but any working dogs you may be using.

If a problem does occur with your ventilation or other equipment, and causes reduced productivity or even fatalities, your losses could be covered by your business interruption insurance. If you’d like to discuss any element of your agricultural insurance, do not hesitate to get in touch at farm@mcclarroninsurance.com or on 01653 697055.

Sources:
https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/cow-health/heat-stress/
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-29205-7_3

Livestock Heat Stress blog post

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