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Summer Livestock Care

August 15 2023

This summer is definitely a scorcher, with many places seeing record-breaking heat. While it hasn’t been as hot here in Maryland as in other places, it’s definitely hot enough for cattle and livestock to be at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. A Westminster, MD vet offers some summer care tips for livestock below.

Know Your Animals

Animals all have their own ways of staying cool. Horses can cool themselves by sweating, and often benefit from being bathed or hosed down. Cows, on the other hand, can’t sweat: a temperature of 100 degrees can be lethal to them. Bunnies use their ears to regulate their temperature, but should never be misted or submerged in water. Chickens cool themselves by spreading their wings, while pigs have decided that their favorite way to keep cool is by rolling around in mud. It’s important to know how your animals will cope with the heat, and customize their living spaces accordingly.


You may need to adjust your animals’ schedules. Hold off on horseback riding in the middle of the day. If you have animals that need regular shearing, such as sheep or llama, try to schedule those haircuts when it’s cool, as they could get sunburned.

Warning Signs

There are some general warning signs to watch for, such as weakness, restlessness, trembling, glazed eyes, and discolored gums. If you see these signs in any of your animals, immediately get them to a cool area, and give them some water, take steps to cool them off, and contact your vet.


No matter what kind of animals you have, there are three things that will protect them from the heat: shade, water, and ventilation. You can easily erect shade canopies in open pastures and paddocks. For ventilation, keep fans going inside barns and poultry houses. Opening windows and doors can also help get a natural breeze going. Misters can help, but there’s a sweet spot there: using them too much may only end up making your barn too humid. As for water, make sure your animals always have access to fresh water. Be extra diligent about keeping the buckets and troughs filled on hot days. Pay extra attention to nursing mamas, and also to young and senior animals, as they will be particularly susceptible.

Do you have questions about caring for livestock? Contact us, your Westminster, MD pet hospital, today!