One of the biggest concerns during the summer is keeping animals safe in the heat. The last two summers here in Virginia we have had days that have exceeded 100 degrees and the humidity level soars all summer long. I have compiled a list below of how we keep our animals comfortable on The Freckled Farm
- Water – All animals require clean fresh water year round, but during the summer the water will get warm and gross quickly. I will refresh the waterers at least twice a day. I try to keep the water as cool as possible. We also have more than one water bucket.
- Shelter – We make sure all of our animals have adequate shelter to escape the sun
- Shade – At any point during the day there is shade somewhere in the pasture. This allows the animals to be outside and graze without having to be in the heat of the direct sun. Our coop was build in the shade of white pines, and our dogs have a labyrinth of bushes to hide in.
- Frozen or Cold Treats – Last summer was much hotter than any weather we have had to contend with this summer. The poor chickens were suffering. I would freeze fruits and veggies as treats. It kept them occupied and cool.
- Avoiding Starchy Foods – Starchy foods raise the chickens’ (or anyone else for that matter) blood sugar which in turn raises their body temperature. During hot days I avoid giving them bread items, and corn and grain products. On days like this they generally only get their chicken feed, fruits and veggies, and very small amount of black oil sunflower seeds.
- Dust Bath – We make sure the chickens have dust bath areas.
- Hose Down – One of our llamas in particular (Blue) LOVES to be hosed down. He suffers from the heat far more than our other llama. This is likely because he is black while Afton is cream colored. As soon as he hears the water he is a up against the fence asking to be sprayed. He will stand in the water stream for 10 minutes if you let him. On hot days I check him several times a day and I will hose him down if he is showing signs of being too hot.
- Dust Bath – Like the chickens the llamas like to roll around in the dirt. Right in the center of our pasture you will find a large bare spot where the llamas have rubbed away all the grass.
We don’t do much extra for the goats. They are not fans of being hosed down and I’ve never really seen them rolling around in the dirt like the llamas. We just make sure they have cool fresh water and a place to get out of the sun. Of all the animals on the farm they seem to handle the heat the best.
During the summer please make sure you take extra care to make sure your animals are safe and comfortable. Keep and eye on the weather and watch for signs like labored breathing, lethargy, and loss of appetite.