Simple Tips to Help Keep Your Animals Cool in the Heat of Summer

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If you are looking for tips on how to help keep your animals cool in hot weather I have some help for you today. Get tips on how to keep your goats and other livestock cool in the hot summer months.

Homesteading tips that will help you to raise livestock that is healthy and thriving all year long.

YOUNG GOAT IN A PASTURE

Oh, my, it has been hot up here in the hills.

When you wake up at 6 AM in Northwestern PA to temperatures already in the mid-70s, and let’s not forget to add humidity that you can cut with a knife, then you know you are pretty much guaranteed a hot day ahead.

Over the years I learned efficient ways to keep our home cool without running up the electric bill but this guide is for our animals. Effective tips that will help you to keep animals cool in hot weather so you have fewer health issues with your livestock.

Ensuring animals remain cool in extreme heat is not only simple necessary. Learn how here!

How do you cool down a hot animal?

The answer to that question is slowly.

Drastic temperature changes with livestock can do more harm than good. The last thing you want to do with an overheated animal is plunge them into an ice bath.

  1. Move them to a cool area such as under a tree or in a barn near to a fan.
  2. Put your hands in cool water and rub them over your animal’s mouth and face.
  3. Offer them fresh water to drink.
  4. Take their temperature.
  5. Take a sponge and wipe them down with cool (not cold) water. Move along their back, legs, neck, and face.

Before the hot weather hits, walk the different areas of your homestead to ensure you have enough locations that are out of the heat. Be sure you have plenty of shaded areas in your pastures, keep extra water sources available, and put up fans to keep the air moving in barns and shelters.

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How To Keep Animals Cool In Hot Weather

This list will cover the animals we have cared for over the years because I like to share advice where I have hands-on experience. I hope you can use it as a starting point for your own homestead and animals.

How to Keep Pigs Cool

Pigs tend to have a hard time in the heat, and that is true with our own pig. She is always warm, even on a cool day, so when it’s hot, we do our best to keep her cool.

A few things to know about pigs. First, they do not have sweat glands, which means they are unable to sweat and release any internal heat. Next, pigs have smaller lungs, which limits their ability to pant.

This makes pigs much more prone to heat stress.

a red and white pig drinking water out of a black bowl in a pen

What is heat stress?

Heat stress is a form of hypothermia, meaning an animal’s body cannot regulate its internal temperature in a normal range. Since our animals cannot tell us when they are hot it is important to know the signs of all your animals so you can quickly catch and deal with any health issues before they get out of hand. 

Since pigs cannot remove excess heat naturally, they will look for other ways to cool down. This is why pigs love to roll in the mud. Having a nice layer of cool mud helps cool them down and protects them from sunburn.

Can pigs get sunburned? 

Yes, pigs, especially light-colored pigs such as Yorkshires, can get sunburned pretty quickly, so having enough shade is crucial in the summer.

Since we prefer to keep our pigs inside of the barn, that means we do not need to worry about direct sunlight, but our barn still gets pretty hot.

#1. Air movement

Air movement will help a barn or any shelter cooler. You can install fans high to move the air or sit a few lower to blog directly on your animal. Just be sure they cannot get access to any cords or wiring.

Keeping a fan in your barn is a great way to help keep your animals cool in hot weather

We also keep our pigs in the coolest section of the barn that gets the least amount of sun. Another bonus of housing our pigs in the barn means they are on concrete which is nice and cool for them to lie on in the hot summer. 

#2. Fresh Water

Access to fresh and clean water is essential for pigs as it helps to encourage plenty of drinking. If your animals do not drink as much water as they should, you may want to clean out their water dish or water system.

Stagnant water may be the reason your pigs are not drinking, so make a goal to change out the water every day or at least a few times a week to always keep things cool and fresh. 

pig eating feed out of a shallow rubber bowl

#3. Continuous Feed

To make sure she is also eating enough, we prefer to feed her more often and in smaller amounts.

Too much food on a super hot day is not something a pig enjoys, so by giving smaller portions of feed more often, a pig will continue to gain weight all summer long. You may want to opt for a continuous hog feeder. This allows your pigs to eat whenever they feel the need. If you choose this way of feeding, it is important to monitor the level of feed inside daily to be sure they are eating enough.

It’s funny how quickly a pig will learn to use a continuous feeder. Here’s how it works.

  1. A pig will use its snout to lift the hinged lid, giving them access to the feed inside.
  2. Gravity keeps feeding always in the troth.
  3. Lift this top to pour in more feed as needed.

#4. walks and baths

Each evening we like to take our pigs out for nice long walks in the cool grass. We will even include a little playtime in the water with a spray down from the hose.

pig in swimming pool

Take Caution:  If you hose your pigs down during the heat of the day, always start at the rump and move your way up to their heads. Sudden cold water on a hot pig’s head can cause shock or even death, so please be extra careful.

#5. Cool Treats

Finally, cool treats like watermelon, frozen fruits, and veggies are not only yummy but will also help cool down your pigs.

How to Keep Chickens Cool

Just like pigs, chickens also cannot sweat, so they use panting to cool off. Another thing they will do is to fan out their feathers, which helps to release some of that heat.

#1. Give them shade

The best way to keep chickens from overheating is to give them a few shady areas in their chicken run. If you do not have any shade, you can use a heavy-duty tarp or wooden board or build an overhang off the side of the coop.

Adding a tarp to great some shade in the chicken coup area will help keep your animals cool on a hot day

Your goal is to give space for your animals to get out of the direct sunshine while allowing good airflow.

#2. Multiple Water Bowls

As with all animals, water is the key to keeping cool. For my chickens, I like to have more than one source of water. Rubber feed bowls like the one in the picture below are perfect for this.

a water bowl on a cinder block in a chicken run. Several black chickens are taking a drink

These bowls are super durable and work well in any season. You can keep a rock inside to keep the bowl from tipping over if your chickens like to perch on the edge.

Have a few options to ensure everyone drinks often. We like to keep a bowl inside the coop, one or two out in the attached run, and even a few out where our flock free-ranges.

The rule of thumb here is you can never have too much water out for your chickens. Chickens are forgetful, especially when scratching for bugs and worms. If the water is out of sight, they will not go looking for it. For this reason, I like to have several options always close by for my hens.

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#3. Frozen Treats

A great treat for chickens is frozen fruit and veggies, especially in the afternoon when things are really cooking. This is an excellent way to get rid of those watermelon rinds, apple peels, or leftover vegetables from last night’s dinner.

You can make frozen treats by filling a small container with your veggie or fruit of choice, covering it with water, and freezing it. Once solid, you can store them in a freezer bag and use them when you need something extra to cool your chickens off. 

Have a few bags of frozen treats in your freezer so you always have something ready to give to your chickens on a warm afternoon. It really does a great job cooling your chickens off and also gives them something to do, decreasing boredom in your flock.

Boredom can cause hen-pecking and is something you will want to deter whenever you can. 

A group of black chickens pecking at a piece of watermelon.

#4. Good Airflow

Since your hens will spend a lot of time inside the coop, you will want to ensure good ventilation and airflow.

Stagnant air is bad any time of the year, so clean your vents and keep windows and doors free from debris.

A chicken shed with door wide open for good ventilation will help keep your animals cool during hot summer months

If you are unsure if your coop has an air vent, look up. Most vents are near the top of a sheep or outbuilding. If you do not see one, you can either add one or install a window.

The goal is to create air flow to keep the inside from getting dusty and stale, which can cause issues in chickens. 

air vent chicken coop with black chickens on a roost

More Chicken Care Resources:

How to Keep Ducks Cool

Ducks are a lot like chickens, so much so that we house and raise ours altogether from baby chicks and ducklings all the way to full-grown.

#1. A place to swim

The main difference between chickens and ducks is that ducks love to be in the water and will gladly spend their days there. Because of this, they are usually cool, even on the hottest days.

If you don’t have a pond, you can use a small plastic pool. This is what we used for years and it worked great mainly because we only have a few ducks.

If you choose to use a pool as we did, be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight. This can be either under a tree or in the corner of a pen with a tarp hung above. By having the pool shaded ti will help to keep the water cooler.

A small kiddie pool filled with water under a tarp with ducks and chickens nearby

Even though the pool is meant for swimming, you will still need to pay attention to its condition. This means changing out the water so it doesn’t get too filthy (ducks are far from neat).

#2. Encourage them to drink

Sometimes, ducks will forget to drink enough water so I use this simply tip to help. Put a few spinach leaves in a water dish and offer it to your ducks.

The ducks will go after the leaves with their beaks helping them to drink and cool off all at the same time.

Ducks, like most animals, are super curious, so when you can use that curiosity in your favor, that’s a plus. 

ducks drinking water with spinach in it

How to Keep Goats Cool

Luckily goats are all able to sweat and pant, so they always tend to cope with the heat a bit better than the other animals we have talked about. That said, I still like to take precautions as they do still tend to get pretty hot in the summer.

#1. Use Fans

We like to have good utility barn fans to push the hot air through. Suspending fans from the ceilings will help with airflow, which is incredibly important in a stuffy barn.

Barns can get pretty stinky, and by moving the air, you will help to make an area easier to breathe in, making it easier for your herd to keep cool. 

goats in a barn with a fan blowing above them

#2. Provide shelter in a pasture

Be sure to have shaded areas out in the pasture. My older wether and breeding buck spend the spring and summer outdoors until breeding season begins in the fall. We have a shelter as well as a few shaded areas for them to get out of the sun.

Goats grazing in a small pasture behind a barn

A note of warning here. Goats love to eat the bark off of trees. If you have a favorite near your goats, take the time to put protection around the base to save the bark and your tree.

You can use chicken wire staked in with sturdy garden posts to wrap the tree, being sure you are out about a foot. This should keep your goats from doing too much damage to the trunk. 

#2. Water

Be sure their water is always fresh and cool and that you have access to water in the barn as well as out in the pasture.

I like to go out and change the water a few times a day when the temperatures are really warm. Goats can be incredibly picky and will not drink water if it is dirty, warm, or stale. For this reason, it is best to change the water out often or you can invest in an automatic waterer, but I have never used one, so I am not sure of the quality. 

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Changing out water a few times a day may sound like an annoying chore, but if you want healthy goats, it is incredibly important to remember….water, water, water. Keep it fresh and keep it cool.

Again if you graze your animals, you will want to have several water options inside and outside your barn or goat shelter. You can use a rubber bowl inside an old tire to help keep it from getting tipped over. 

a red arrow pointing to a water bowl in a tire out in pasture with two goats nearby

More Goat Care Resources:

Want to do just a little bit more? Add some ice cubes to the water! Goats love to play, and it’s comical to see them dunking for cubes while drinking.

A crucial thing to learn for how to raise dairy goats in the hot summer months is finding ways to keep everyone hydrated.  

#3. Clip or Shave

Finally, with my dairy goats, I like to shave them down at the beginning of summer. Yes, shave them all the way down from head to tail. I do this while they are eating in the milk stand and use my pet clippers (people’s ones are not quite durable enough), leaving the attachment off.

I like to clip down one side at a time to not stress my goats out too much. Yes, it takes a few days to get everyone done, but if you have a skittish goat going slowly will help to keep everyone calmer.

This will do a lot to keep them cool because no one wants a winter coat during the summer, and having all that hair off is something they love. There will also be no more fence itching, which goats will do and can damage the fence’s integrity if they do it often enough.

How to keep animals cool in the summer – final tips

Let’s talk about a few extra ways to help your livestock cope with hot temps.

Tip #1  Offer Fresh Water Throughout the Day

Change out warm water several times on a very hot day. Yes, I know it takes extra time to change the water out, but this one small step can keep your animals cool and healthy.

A sweet pig taking a break from the hot weather.

Tip #2  Keep Things Clean

At least weekly, wash out your water bowls, jugs, or buckets. You will be amazed at how finicky some animals can be, and simply by washing things out a bit, you will encourage them to drink more.

You know it’s funny, but my goats will rush me when I come out with clean, fresh buckets of water and drink and drink and drink. Diva’s. 🙂

A large Nubian goat taking a cool drink of water on a hot summer day.

Tip #3  Watch for Signs of Distress

No one is around your animals as much as you are; if any of them are acting off even in the slightest way, do not delay to investigate.

Heat stress can kill an animal quickly, so be aware of any changes in your animals no matter how subtle. Here are a few things to watch out for.

  1. Not eating
  2. Not grazing
  3. Lethargic
  4. Not keeping with the herd or the flock
  5. Acting loopy, walking in circles, or stumbling
A panting black chicken sitting next to a coop on a hot summer day

Tip #4  Provide a Shaded Area

I know I mentioned this a few times already but it does bear repeating, make sure your outdoor animals have a shaded area out of the direct sun. Here are a few ideas:

You can use a tarp, sheet of plywood, or anything that will provide some sort of relief from the hot sun. If you have a tree, they can get under, that will usually be enough. As an added step, keep a large bucket of water under that tree to encourage your animals to drink.

A flock of chickens cooling off in the shade of an apple tree

Tip #5  Get those Fans Moving

Hanging a fan will only do so much. Using the fans to keep a solid air flow is a great way to cool down the inside of a shelter.

  1. Keep them high. This will help keep the hot air moving cooling it off.
  2. Clean your fans often to remove any buildup of dust, cobwebs, or other materials.
  3. Invest in good quality fans. We used to use box fans but have found that better-quality barn fans do a much better job. 

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Tip #6. Touch your Animals

Animals are pretty good at masquerading their illnesses or injuries. For that reason, I like to be as hands-on with them as they will allow. Pet them, hold them, feel them.

Sometimes a change in body condition is the only cue you will have of something being wrong. For that reason, I like to hold my chickens, pet my goats, and scratch my pigs. 

Remember, your animals depend on you for their comfort and safety. By taking a few precautions and learning to read your animals for any changes, you will go a long way to keeping them healthy and happy.

What tricks have you learned to help keep your animals cool in hot weather?  Please share below; I would love to hear from you!

More Homesteading Resources:

Worried about your animals in this hot August heat? Here are tips that will help your livestock cool off before they get sick. Do what you can to keep them cool and healthy even on the hottest days. My simple tips to keep your animals a bit more comfortable this summer. #keepanimalscool #homesteading

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