The summer heat is here. In the barn or show ring, kids and animals are hot. It is important that both be protected from heat stress at county and state fairs.
Animals and people exhibit similar signs of heat stress. There is increased breathing, decreased appetite, fatigue and dehydration. Add the stress of the show ring, and it creates a tipping point for both animal and handler.
Here's how to prepare for those hot summer livestock shows.
• Drink water. Dehydration occurs after prolonged exposure to high temperatures, direct sun and high humidity without enough rest and fluids. Make sure to drink cool water early and often. Have a bottle of water waiting ringside to grab at the end of a class.
• Cool down. Have wet towels in the cooler. Grab one and place it around the back of the neck. Better yet, find a fan and stand in front of it with the wet towel on the neck.
• Get acclimated early. Step outside of the air-conditioned house. Days before the fair, spend time outside in the heat, gradually increasing time and activity level to help the body adapt to the higher temperatures and humidity.
• Find a chair. Classes can run long. Take time between classes to sit down, relax and breathe.
Sure Champ offers a few suggestions to protect animals from heat stress this show season.
• Seek out shade. Make sure animals are out of direct sunlight. Do not leave the animal in the sun too long waiting for a class to start. Find a tree if away from the barn to shield the animal from the sun.
• Get airflow. Make sure there is a fan in hot, humid weather. Livestock need the air to move around them to reduce heat stress.
• Consider moisture. Keeping the bedding wet or lightly misting the body of the animal (except in the case of fitted sheep) will help cool the air. Rinsing animals multiple times a day can help drop their core temperatures.
• Water often. Make sure lines are not exposed to heat, because that will make the water hot. Smaller buckets filled more frequently will allow for fresh, cool water.
Don't let heat stress sideline you or your animal at this year's fair. Stay focused. Learn to manage distractions from friends and fair rides to take care of yourself and your livestock. Keep cool.