Raising Finnish Landrace, Cotswold, Border Leicester, and Romeldales, in the Heart of Illinois, as well as working with rescue llamas.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hot+Hot+HOT= the need for coooool!

Late July and August are always hot and steamy here in Illinois. Down the road a neighbor's herd looked to be attempting to make a dam out of cows in their creek or at least trying raise the level of the water by fitting as many bodies in the creek at the same time as possible.  While this weather is great for record breaking crops of corn, beans, and hay it is not so good for animals, particularly animals in fleece. While wool is a great insulator against cold and somewhat against heat but when the temperature reaches 85+  it is simply time for some cooling measures.... The kids get the creek to play in, hang out in the basement reading frequently checked out library books, occasionally a trip to a pool but what do the animals get??? The local pool isn't an option for them, nor is the basement!  So our steers are taking refuge in the creek, wading in up to their bellies, simply standing as the cooler water flows over them and cools their core temperature.  While the cows enjoy standing water to cool off the sheep aren't really partial to it and the bunnies.... not at all.

In the rabbitry we are running fans, a dehumidifier, and ice bottling each rabbit hole. Mama's with kits are getting more than one ice bottle so every bunny has access. This does lead to extra grooming for the French Angoras but their comfort is worth it as a comfortable bunny is a bunny that is healthy and consistently gaining weight and growing quality fleece. No one is allowed to leave the doors to the rabbitry open during the sun up hours or risk  hearing the "shutting the door to protect the bunnies" speech. Last week when it was 100 with high humidity outside walking into the rabbitry from outside felt like walking into air conditioning. So far so good, all bunnies appear to be comfortable and happy. The babies are romping around in full play. Frozen veggies and fruits with their evening meals is always popular with the bunnies too.  A good friend and local rabbit shower/breeder (  told me this week that her bunnies are really enjoying frozen strawberries and blueberries... but not to feed them right before a show as the bunnies frequently wear a berry big smile afterwards... which I would love to see!

In the pasture, the ewes are hanging out in the deepest of shade, lounging in the valley near the creek, and grazing earlier and later than they do during cooler weather. Over in the "guy pasture" the rams are going deep into the woods with the steers and lounging as close to the creek as possible without getting wet. they are almost risking getting wet with as close as they are getting. I keep thinking "if you boys would just get in you'd feel cooler," but they seem to prefer it this way so we'll let them choose since they are all adults.  I know that  wet wool will continue to insulate against cold so maybe it hold the heat in? The weaned lambs are in the paddocks with access to the the barn loafing stall we have 4 fans blowing into the loafing stall for the lambs. They like to park in front of the fans if possible so we have the fans raised so the breeze is blowing over their backs. We have discovered a couple lambs are just serious fan hogs... hence the 4 fans blowing from 4 different locations and heights. I think a giant cooling fan may be in order in the future... less cords for tripping over but for now this is working. We also are borrowing a rabbit cooling concept. We have placed a extra water tank in the middle of the stall for them to lay against as they wish. During the heat of the day we are floating 2 liter ice bottles in this tank. They seem to enjoying draining the ice water tank over their regular tank. I didn't know they could drink that much in a day!!! We even checked for a leak in the tank.  Nope, almost completely drunk while the regular tank was nearly untouched.... if they start asking for tea and lemons or koolaid in their tank the answer is gonna be ... well, I guess I might just have to oblige.. since they asked politely and all. ;)

4h show coming our way next week!

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