Monday, September 26, 2011

Keeping Goats Cool


Summer might be coming to a close on the calendar, but that doesn't mean Mother Nature is letting up on the heat. Things like jumping in the water and spending time in the cooler indoors are ways that we help beat the heat, but don't forget to help your goats do the same. The warm weather can be tough on animals, sometimes causing them to overheat, which can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or even death. Following these tips will help them enjoy the warmer temperatures as much as you do.

Fresh, cool air: Make cross-ventilation a priority, especially in the summer. One thing to look out for, in particular, is ammonia. Ammonia builds up more quickly in the summer heat, especially low to the ground where goats sleep. Kneel down in your goat shed, and if you can smell ammonia from eight inches above the floor, your shed needs a thorough cleaning. Keep as many doors and windows open as possible to keep fresh air moving through the building.

H20: Clean, cool water should be available at all times. Water is essential for temperature control, waste excretion, electrolyte balance, digestion and more. Keep water troughs clean by changing drinking water several times a day, and put water containers in the shade to avoid sun-stimulated algae growth. In extreme heat, or if you will be away for long periods, add ice blocks to your goats' water. One way to increase the water intake is by offering free-choice salt. This will help dilute the urine and avoid urinary calculi, which can be more common in hot weather if goats do not drink enough. A bout of diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration in the heat of summer. Keep cool, clean water available at all times. Persistent diarrhea in young kids can lead to death if left untreated. If symptoms persist, consult your veterinarian.

Play: Goats love to play and are always looking for something to do. Make sure they have a shaded area to have their fun during the summer months.

Hygiene: Dirty shed and bedding can lead to skin sores, mastitis, respiratory ailments, foot problems, and more that escalate in the summer heat, so keep it clean. You may also want to shear long-haired goats before the summer heat sets in.

Transportation: Minimize transport time especially in late gestation as much as possible, but if you must, provide proper ventilation, make plenty of stops and make time to rest, water, and feed them along the way. Try to travel late at night or early in the morning to avoid the worst heat of the day.

Summer babies: Try to avoid summer births in hot climates where temperatures are often above 90 degrees during summer and fall. Kids tend not to grow as fast under such circumstances, and high temperatures combined with drought conditions cause stress.

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