Heats Impact on Farming And Livestock
June saw an unexpected heat wave sweep over the southwestern U.S. Temperatures were so high that flights were grounded, power was knocked out, and roads were buckling. To no one’s surprise, farmers have been hit hard by this extreme heat. Crops will undoubtedly suffer stress and lead to lower yields. Livestock and poultry suffer from the heat too. Farmers had their hands full trying to protect animals from heat stress and losses. From physically moving animals to installing sprinklers and shade structures, the efforts are commendable, but will they be enough?
Protecting Against Climate Extremes
While we can’t say for sure that climate change is at work here, we also can’t deny that heat waves have become more frequent and more severe. Unfortunately, ranchers may have to start planning for this type of extreme heat by:
- Establishing cooling houses. Heat susceptible animals may require specially cooled areas or even air-conditioned barns.
- Adding shade to pens, enclosures, and pastures. Natural shade like trees can be complemented with sunscreens and man-made structures.
- Increasing roof heights. Higher ceilings and roofs allow heat to rise higher and away from the animals.
- Increasing ventilation. High-powered fans can force hot air out and help keep the inside of barns cooler.
- Adding water stations. Increasing the number of water stations can help ensure livestock are well-hydrated. Add more wallow ponds or natural sources of water for animals to drink or wade in. Keep water shaded if possible.
- Adding sprinklers. Sprinklers can help animals stay cool and find some relief from the heat.
Protect Against Power Loss
Although not often associated with extreme heat, power loss does happen. Increased use of cooling systems can overload local power grids and lead to brownouts, blackouts, or system shutdown. Farmers and ranchers can protect against this risk by adding backup power systems to their facilities. Backup generators will keep the fans going, A/C units running, and water chillers chilling even if the rest of the area is without power.
The investment is well worth it when you consider that the cost of not installing such backup protection is your livelihood.