Community News

Managing livestock in hot dry conditions

Many parts of the North Coast have been experiencing both higher than average daily temperatures and lower than average rainfall in recent weeks.

The team at North Coast Local Land Services are urging producers to take adequate precautions in coming weeks to ensure that the welfare of livestock under their care is not adversely affected by these seasonal conditions.

Three major considerations are

1.     Water availability

2.     Feed availability

3.     Heat stress

The water requirement for cattle, for instance, varies according to class, age and stage of production and can range from 40 Litres to 70 Litres per day for an adult cow in hot conditions.

North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian, Dr Liz Bolin, said, “It is important to consider both the quantity and the quality of the water available to stock and we are urging landholders to monitor their water points and pumps closely in these dry hot conditions.

“With the lack of adequate rain and high daily temperatures, pastures can potentially suffer severe moisture stress.

“Landholders may need to consider strategies to meet nutritional requirements depending on the class of stock and pasture quality and availability.

“Some strategies that landholders can explore are destocking, early weaning and filling the nutritional gap with purchased supplementary feed.” Dr Bolin said.

Heat stress becomes a very real threat in hot climatic conditions. Animals affected by heat stress may demonstrate signs such as increased respiration rates, reduced feed intake, seeking shade, crowding around water toughs, drooling saliva and in severe cases collapse and death.

Owners should ensure that livestock are in a paddock that provides adequate shade opportunities for all stock, especially in the hotter parts of the day.

Dairy farmers may consider altering miking times, delaying afternoon milking and using sprinklers and fans in the dairy yard.

Poultry housing must have adequate ventilation and producers may consider water cooling systems and reducing stocking densities in anticipation of hot weather.

It is also important to ensure that farm dogs have access to plenty of shade and water – providing additional water dishes may be necessary.