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Posts Tagged ‘high temperatures’

Summer in Full Swing

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Summer on the ranch doesn’t differ too much from year to year. Really the only thing that changes is the amount of rainfall. Other than that, most things are unchanged. The heat is a dependable presence. Summers in Texas are hot and the temperatures have really begun to soar. These high temps combined with high humidity make for an awesome day. You step out of your nice air-conditioned home into an oven, and your body immediately begins perspiring.

This year in particular we have enjoyed nice rains. Therefore, we have more grass than ever. Not bad when you are in the grass fed business. Recently we had our first hay cut. We asked for round bales only. These are easier to feed a herd of cattle in the winter. We now have all the hay out of the field and stored for colder days.

The higher temperatures of summer mean that warmer water temperatures. We don’t have a swimming pool, but we do have several ponds. My children, especially the boys, love to jump in the water in an attempt to cool off. The cows do too, especially the Devons. Well, they don’t jump in, but they do like to stand mid-belly deep in the cool waters. Summertime means finding ways to cool off for both humans and animals.

Gardening is also in its prime time. Vegetables are ripening at lightning speed. We are getting to enjoy the fruit of our labor. Summertime is usually filled with putting up our produce and giving away our excess.

Summers are also a time filled with camps, fun outings, and trips. We like to spend time with our children enjoying this season together. From backyard barbecues to family floating trips, we seize time to spend with family and friends.

This is what summertime looks like at Cross Creek Cattle Company. We are busy doing both hard work and having family fun. We are truly enjoying the sunshine and cool waters. The smell of fresh cut hay fills the air. As I breathe in deeply, I know summer is in full swing.

Heat Stress in Animals

Thursday, August 4th, 2011
Dolly and my daughter, Kyla

Dolly and my daughter, Kyla

You know it is hot when you look out on your porch at 6:00 p.m. and see that the temperature is 104 degrees.  Temperatures that high that late in the day are becoming the new normal this August.  Unfortunately, it it just the beginning of the hottest month of the year.

Most people know the warning signs for heat exhaustion or stroke in people.  Symptoms include excessive sweating, lightheadedness, nausea, and a bad headache.  If you ignore those warning signs, then you can quickly suffer a heat stroke.  Symptoms of a heat stroke are disorientation, rapid pulse, the absence of sweating, and/or difficulty breathing.  Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to combat the effects of such extreme heat.

Animals can also suffer heat exhaustion or stroke.  In fact despite all the water and shade we offer our livestock, one of our older horses, Dolly, gave us quite a scare last Saturday.  Most of my immediate family was not at the ranch.  We had gone to a home school convention and family conference.  My two youngest children were staying with their grandparents, the owners of Cross Creek Cattle Company.  As they looked across the pasture, Dolly laying on her side caught their attention.

Horses will sometimes lay down and sun.  They will also roll in dirt.  However, horses don’t usually lay down for an extended period of time.  If they do, it means that something is wrong.  A down horse is not good.  My dad walked out to inspect her.  Typically when nothing is wrong with the horse, it will get up if it hears you approaching.  Not Dolly.  She just laid there.  This was alarming.

My dad enlisted the help of his wife and together they began trying to get Dolly up.  My dad was literally rocking her body, but she continued to lay there.  She was lethargic.  They wanted to try and cool her off with water, but they had to go home to get the supplies they needed.  On their way back, they immediately noticed that Dolly had gotten herself up.

She was staggering like a drunken mare to the barn.  My dad put a halter on her and led her to a shade tree.  He began spraying her down with cool well water.  I have heard of horses going in to shock by cooling them down too quickly.  Start spraying water at the hooves and work your way up the legs.  Then douse their body and neck.

Dolly stayed in her stall the rest of the day and night with a fan on her.  She has major anxiety when she is separated from the other horses so they stalled all the horse earlier than usual that evening.  The next morning she was back to her normal self; however, I noticed that she stayed in the shade the entire day unlike the other horses who would periodically graze in the open pasture.

We are lucky that Dolly rebounded so well from her bout with heat exhaustion.  It reminds us that despite the safeguards you provide, the safety and health of your livestock is not guaranteed.  Just like infants, the elderly, athletes, and people who physically exert themselves outside are the most susceptible to suffering from a heat-related illness, young and old horses are the most susceptible.  In addition, ones that are physically exerting themselves are more likely to show symptoms of heat exhaustion. If you want to read more on the subject, “Heat Stress in Cattle–Know the Warning Signs!” by Kevin Gould, is a good article.

As the high temperatures continue and possibly grow worse this month, keep your personal safety and the safety of your livestock in mind.  Stay hydrated and stay in the shade as much as possible.  When you have to physically exert yourself, do it in the early morning or late evening if at all possible.  Twelve individuals have died in Dallas already this summer; this is not a laughing matter.

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