Livestock "more acclimated," but heat still dangerous

Staff writer

Joyce Olsen of Aulne has seen her fair share of hot summers, and this year has not been one of the hottest. Nonetheless, 100 degrees is 100 degrees, and her hogs need protection from the conditions.

“Heat like this will kill a sow or a hog,” she said, “because they don’t sweat.”

The National Weather Service in Wichita said that while nothing is certain, it’s reasonable to hope this most recent stretch is the last heat wave of this intensity of the summer.

Olsen said the heat wave has been one of the more dangerous for her hogs this summer.

“When it gets like this, you’ve gotta have the foggers on and fill the water holes,” she said.

Veterinarian Jessica Laurin said the June heat wave was more threatening to animals because the heat and humidity combined with the wind “seems to amplify the problems.” Additionally, animals who have spent their summer outside are more acclimated by August than they are during initial heat waves earlier in summer.

Laurin said, for heat spells like this, pigs need shade and a good water source, as well as “someplace wet to hang out.”

Olsen’s pigs had all the proper amenities, and spent their Monday afternoon in the 99-degree heat alternating stints in their sheds and in their muddy water holes.

Olsen, whose son Terry does most of the tending to the pigs, said hog farmers in the area are well-versed in handling the kind of heat. The main problem it presents is the livestock typically don’t gain as much weight during hot spells. Laurin agreed, saying that the pigs get sunburnt.

“It will back them off feed for a few days, and it’s pretty painful,” Laurin said.

Laurin said any transport of livestock should be done in the morning to avoid the peak hot hours.

“If you’re bringing them up close together, moving them around in a contained area, you can build up a lot of heat pretty quick,” she said. “They can get overheated as a group.”

Laurin said that while confining animals in enclosed spaces exacerbates the heat, they typically stick together in open pastures to help stay cool.

“You will see them congregate and hang out together because they provide shade to each other,” she said.

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