Sheep and the Heat

Summer brings the sunshine, green grass and heat. In the summer, any work done with the sheep I do early. I do not like working my sheep when the temperatures reach 90 degrees fahrenheit. The reason, sheep heat stress. A few things I do to help with heat stress are simple and not expensive.

I wet down under the shelters, the moisture on the shaded ground is cool. I also add fans when I can, moving air helps to cool the sheep by moving the heated air created around the sheep by their body, away from the sheep. Some sheep farmers add water misters to their barns and shelters along with fans to help sheep stay cool.

Providing salt and minerals allow the sheep to keep their electrolytes balanced in their body, allowing for proper body function. I provide salt and minerals year around. In the winter, the sheep do not consume the salt and minerals very fast. Summer heat arrives, and I am filling the mineral feeders every few days. Keeping the salt and minerals available at all times does help the sheep handle the heat.

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Fresh water. Water is the foundation of life. Everything needs water. I fill my water troughs in the morning and at night. At this time I do not have water lines to each pen with the ability of putting floats on the water troughs and keeping the water full and fresh.

When it is really hot, above 98 degrees, the sheep sit in the shade and do not eat. I have learned the sheep will eat more in the early morning, late evening and at night, when the temperatures are lower. Some of my pastures I can graze at night without worry of predators. The other pastures, I let the sheep feed in before the sun appears, all day and late evening, putting the sheep away just as the sun is setting.

Examine your farm, shade and water placements. Develop a plan to assist your sheep in staying cool and getting the feed to keep them productive during the hot summer months.


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