Livestock Corner: Keeping animals cool at fairtime
No butt fans
A lot of county fairs are now installing fans that circulate air in the same direction or in a racetrack fashion. Glen Arnold, an Extension agent at Ohio State University, says exhibitors in cattle barns are trying to get away from butt fans.
"That's where you would have three fans blowing air at the butt of the animal," he says. "Individual exhibitors would have their fans blowing only on their animals, and all that did was circulate a lot of warm air in the building. If everybody has his fan blowing in a single direction, then everyone's contributing to the well-being of the animals in the barn."
If you are planning to take pigs to the fair, know that these animals require some extra effort to stay cool. They only have sweat glands between their toes, so blowing warm air across their bodies isn't very helpful. Be sure to wet them down first, then turn the fan on them.
"An exhibitor could either set up a system to add some water onto the pigs for two minutes and then allow it to evaporate for 15. Or the exhibitor could take some time during the hottest time of the day to sprinkle the pigs down from time to time with a watering can or something similar," Arnold says. If a fan is unavailable, simply wetting them down will help.
Manage shade and water
Many open-sided fair buildings use tarps to provide shade for animals positioned in direct sunlight. Often a tarp is lowered in the morning to shield animals from the rising sun, but it is mistakingly left down for the remainder of the day, trapping the heat in. Using a tarp to block the sun is a great strategy; however, the tarp should be raised when it is unneeded to allow heat to escape.
Cool water should always be available to the livestock, especially when heat stress conditions exist. Consider the use of automatic waterers. They allow show animals constant access to water without creating messy pens.
Help create a positive county fair experience. Quality air exchange, proper shade, and plenty of cool water will keep you and your animals happy.
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