Precautions to Take When Hauling Livestock in Warm Weather
With summer approaching, it’s time to think about precautions you can take when hauling livestock in warm weather. Livestock have a lower tolerance to heat and humidity than humans, and often have limited means for cooling themselves.
There are two factors to consider when hauling in warm weather: heat and humidity. The relative humidity affects animals’ ability to cool by evaporation. The more moisture there is in the air, the less evaporation that occurs, and as a result, less cooling benefit to the animal. As the air temperature increases, cooling becomes more important.
The chart below is the Heat Index Chart for Cattle. Color-coding in the chart indicates danger levels for cattle based on heat and humidity. (From www.erh.noaa.gov/rah/heat/heatindexchart.gif.)
Cattle, sheep, and swine all have different Heat Indices. For sheep Heat Index go here: http://www.healingspringsanimalhospital.com/2007_06.htm and for Swine Heat index go here: http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/?AREA=FeaturedArticle&Display=669
When you make plans to transport livestock in the summer, consider the following to alleviate heat stress:
- Avoid transporting when the Heat Index is above 93 on the above chart
- Plan transport during the cooler parts of the day, avoiding the hours between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm as that is generally the hottest time of day
- Haul fewer animals at a time if at all possible
- Avoid stopping. If you must stop, park the animals in shade
- Make stop durations as short as possible
- If possible, plan shorter trips in hotter weather
- Check weather service forecasts for your route and destinations. They will often include information for livestock haulers
- Ensure the livestock are well hydrated before shipping. Often animals won’t drink while in transport, even if drinking water is available
- In some instances it is possible to give animals electrolytes prior to shipping, consider doing that
- Make sure your load has plenty of ventilation and airflow
- At all times animals should be handled quietly and calmly when loading, hauling, and unloading. This is especially true in high heat and humidity situations
- At times when it is especially hot out, consider cancelling the transport until cooler weather arrives.
By following these precautions and avoiding high-stress situations, you can ensure your load is delivered safely and without heat stress.