With 9.7 million acres of farmland and over 895,000 beef cows, agriculture is one of the largest industries across the state of Florida. Purchasing land to raise animals is a great opportunity; however, it’s important to learn how to properly care for animals in a subtropical climate. Like humans, animals are also susceptible to heat stroke, and spending long days outside in Florida’s scorching summer temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly.
Keeping your animals cool and comfortable during periods of intense heat is essential for maintaining healthy livestock. Here are some tips on how to protect your livestock during warm Florida summers.
1. Ensure They Have Shade And Shelter
You should never raise animals on land without adequate shade and shelter, especially in Florida. If your farmland doesn’t have an abundance of trees, then invest in a barn or awning that is large enough to offer coverage for all your livestock. Your animals should have enough room to move around freely in the shaded area, and they shouldn’t have to compete for space. If you do build a barn, make sure there are plenty of windows and install fans to create adequate airflow.
2. Maintain An Adequate Supply Of Water
The most important way to protect your animals from high temperatures is to provide an adequate supply of water. Make sure to use several sturdy, large troughs or containers that won’t tip over, and place them in a shady area that is easily accessible. Check the water levels multiple times each day and refill as needed.
3. Monitor For Heat-Related Illnesses
When temperatures exceed 90 degrees, make sure to regularly monitor your animals for signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Animals suffering from heat-related illnesses may appear unresponsive or have a lack of appetite. You may also notice trembling or panting. If the heat stroke is severe, your animals may even fall into a state of unconsciousness. Make sure to check on your animals every hour or so throughout the hottest periods of the day.
How To Treat Animals For Heat-Related Illnesses
If you notice signs of heat-related illnesses, it’s important to act quickly. Heat stroke can be dangerous and even deadly if it isn’t treated right away.
The first step is to remove your animal from the heat as quickly as possible. Ideally, you should move them into a cool barn if possible; however, if your farmland doesn’t have shelter, guide your animal toward a shady area.
Once settled in a cool spot, immediately offer cool (not ice-cold) water. Drinking ice-cold water too quickly can actually cause shock in extreme cases. Don’t force the animal to drink, rather, offer small quantities every 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t let them drink too much too fast.
Next, you’ll want to try to cool them off. Cooling off cows, horses, pigs, and goats is easy – you can use a hose with cool water. However, if you’re raising poultry, you should place your chickens in front of a fan instead (don’t attempt to cool chickens with water). If you’re treating dogs or cats, bring them indoors into the air conditioning, wrap a towel around an icepack, and place it on their belly. Continue to cool them until they regain some of their energy and the symptoms of heat stroke fade.
Once your animal or animals have stabilized, you should monitor them continually for the next several hours. Keep in mind, heat stroke symptoms may reappear, or your animals might appear sleepy or lethargic, even after they cool off. However, they should return to normal after a couple of days. Even if your animal does make a full recovery, it’s still a good idea to have them checked out by a vet. Heat stroke can lead to other health complications.
Raising animals can be rewarding and profitable. However, due to Florida’s unique climate, it’s important to ensure your animals are cool, comfortable, and happy, especially during the hot summer months.
If you’re interested in investing in Florida farmland, contact Palmetto Realty today. We’re an experienced real estate broker that specializes in land transactions. We’d be happy to help you find the perfect property today.