Marc with his daughter and one of his cows on their South Dakota farm.

Caring for Livestock in the Summer

On hot summer days, we all need to find ways to cool down. Like us, animals also need to avoid the heat. Luckily, farmers are there to help them out.

Meet Marc: He’s a South Dakota farmer who raises beef cattle, pigs from wean to finish and has a cow-calf operation. In this guest blog, Marc shares his perspectives on caring for animals in warm weather and why things like electrolytes and cooling misters are so important when the mercury soars.

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In the summer, we make changes to how we care for our animals. The warm weather affects them just like it affects us. With cattle, one of the most important things we do is make sure they have shade and access to good, fresh drinking water. We want to make sure their feed is balanced, stays fresh and doesn’t sit out in the warm sun for too long. If we have a large group of animals coming in, we will make sure to put electrolytes in the water. Providing them with plenty of fluids, vitamins and minerals to get through the stress of the heat is necessary.

Our hog barns are mechanically ventilated. As it warms up during the day, we increase ventilation. When it gets above 80 to 85 degrees, we run misters that will kick in on a timer to give the hogs enough water to cool down.

We always make sure to check on our animals throughout the day. If we have to move the animals, we’ll check the forecast and move them on a day that’s a little bit cooler. If we have a situation where we have to haul those animals on livestock trailers or trucks, we make sure we do it early in the morning when it’s cool outside. Especially when it comes to hogs, we’ll put sprinklers on them and provide plenty of ventilation.

I have been farming my entire life, and I have seen farming make huge strides with improving the efficiency, sustainability and safety of what we do. The biggest changes I’ve seen are housing and technology. All of our barns are controlled by computers and software, which is technology that’s getting better and helps us fine-tune what we do. It gives us that ability to manage our animals’ health and comfort level better than we used to so we can precisely meet our animals’ needs.

Though the summer presents different challenges for raising our animals, I am proud to say that their comfort and safety is always our No. 1 priority.tech

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