As temperatures rise during the summer months, it's important to ensure that your goats are comfortable and safe from heat-related illnesses. With a few simple measures, you can help keep your goats cool and healthy during the hottest months of the year. Here's what you need to know.
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Keep Water Available at All Times
Water is the most essential factor in keeping your goats cool in the summer as it is needed for their internal temperature regulation to function properly. It is important to make sure the water is clean of debris, dirt, and rodents so goats will be willing to drink from it.
This is increasingly crucial for does that are pregnant or nursing as they need to sustain more than one life. Bucks and Wethers can’t be forgotten in this equation, cold water is also crucial for healthy urinary tracts.
It is recommended to keep water sources in the shade, so they remain cool. This is not only for temperature, but it reduces the likelihood of algae and other bacteria that grow faster in the sun.
Provide Ample Shade
Another important factor to goats staying cool in extreme heat is proper shade. The source of shade can be their shelter, trees, a feeding station, wooden spools, a tarp, trampoline or any other resources you have that provide some reprieve from the hot sun.
Use Fans and Misters to Cool the Air
If your barn has electricity, a fan can be a great way to circulate air and keep your goats and other farm animals cool.
Some farmers install misters in the barn or simply use the mist feature on a hose to keep their goats cool. It is important not to spray goats with a hose, as they are sensitive to rapid temperature changes, and it can do more harm than good.
Kiddie Pools: A Fun and Easy Solution
Giving goats a source of water to lay in, such as a kiddie pool, can be a great way to cool them down and regulate their body temperature on hot days.
Based on experience and research the breed and personality of goat will impact if they utilize the pool. We have found that our Nigerian Dwarfs show no interest in it, other than to drink from.
Using Frozen Water Bottles
Frozen water bottles of water jugs are a great option to keep goats enriched as well as cool. They will lick and rub on the frozen water which helps to regulate their body temperature.
Limit Transport and Work
During sunny weather and extreme heat, it is important to let your goats rest as working them under these conditions can lead to heat stroke. Specifically, between 10 am and 4 pm is the recommended time to let them relax the most.
Similarly, it is recommended to refrain from moving and transporting goats during this window as it can lead to heat stress.
Keep Goats Cool While You Are Away
If you are away for the day, or unable to check on them regularly, putting ice cubes in their water is a great way to ensure they will remain cooler during the day. This is accompanied by the above tips such as ample shade, and your goats should be in good shape.
Should I Shave My Goats For The Summer?
This is not recommended as their hair protects their sensitive skin from the sun.
What is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke, often called heat stress, is when an animal is unable to regulate their internal temperature to safe levels.
This occurs when goats have an internal body temperature over 104 degrees.
A few symptoms to look for to diagnose heat stroke include:
Body temperature over 104 degrees. You can check this with a thermometer.
Temperatures beyond 107 are considered fatal
Decreased grazing and Appetite
How to Treat Heat Stroke in Goats?
If you suspect your goat has heat stroke it is important not to dramatically change their body temperature by bringing them into the air conditioning as this can shock their system.
Recommended actions include:
Move them to shade
Place them somewhere with good airflow
Give them time to rest
Provide electrolytes such as Gatorade
How Hot is Too Hot?
Generally speaking above 84 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature where heat stress can be severe. However, there are a variety of environmental factors such as humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed that also impact how hot is too hot.
Breed is an important factor when considering how well goats can handle warm temperatures. Some breeds such as Nigerian Dwarf goats are hardy and quickly adapt to diverse climates.
Other key factors include:
Color of Hair Makes a difference
Goats that are older or have had health and respiratory issues in the past are more prone to heat stress and need to be watched closer.
Also, the color of their hair impacts how they handle the heat. Goats with darker hair will need more cooling mechanisms than lighter goats.
Lastly, much like how chickens regulate their body temperature by their combs, goats can use their horns to radiate excess heat. Therefore, goats without horns have a harder time regulating their body temperature.
The most important factors to keeping goats cool in the summer and extreme heat are cold and clean water, proper ventilation, and shade.
It is vital to check on your goats regularly, and if you suspect they are experiencing heat stress providing shade and water are the most important steps to take.
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