In the past, we've learned -often the hard way- that animals suffer with the stress of heat; they get sedentary, and won't move to go to their food and water. An animal who is not eating is definitely not gaining weight, and when they don't get up to drink, their health deteriorates rapidly (with chickens this looks like dead in a few hours). We no longer raise meat chickens for a number of reasons, but we were able to relieve their heat stress by regularly spraying them with water. Livestock absolutely need shade in the heat of summer, so that is a must. We provide woods for the pigs and sheep, and if they are near a hoophouse shelter, we cover it with a shade cloth. The second measure we take is providing appropriate water.
A few weeks ago, Brooks wanted to join Anna and the family at the beach, but a heat wave was forecasted. He wouldn't be here to spray them down in midday or leave a hose running to make them a wallow. Forced into ingenuity, he invented this automatic sprayer. Instead of draining the well in a half an hour with a regular sprinkler, Brooks created this mister that uses minimal water, but does the trick.
It is on a battery powered timer, and turns on automatically from noon to 6, the hottest part of the day. In the below photo, you can see it in the top right, with an area of wet soil spreading beneath.
Pigs rest most of the day, when they are not foraging or eating. They actively seek out wallows, or mud pits, often breaking water lines or destroying creek banks in order to make their own. This is an important natural instinct as it allows them to cool down and protect their skin (yes pigs get sunburns if not covered in mud!). This sprayer has been working beautifully, allowing the pigs to remain comfortable and healthy. See the Instagram for video of pigs under the sprayer.
I couldn’t resist trying it out after taking these photos :), and I must say it made my walk home much more pleasant!
Hope you are staying cool and comfortable as well!
Thanks for supporting local food and farming,
~Brooks and Anna
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