Cattle gathering around a water source to stay cool on a farm in Summer

Keeping Your Livestock Cool in Summer

The summer climate can be a serious issue for Australian farmers as they try to keep their livestock cool and healthy in the scorching heat. With average temperatures continually trending upward, this is becoming a bigger challenge. Young animals and animals with darker, thicker coats are typically more susceptible to the heat. Below, we have the most important considerations for keeping your animals cool.

Keep Livestock Cool – Water

Having a clean and cool supply of water is the priority in caring for animals in the heat. Troughs must be carefully designed, so they are unable to be overturned and that they provide easy access for all animals. They must be kept clean, maintained and built in a way to minimise the risk of injury. Any pipes must be of sufficient specification to handle high water demand. When possible, water sources should be in the shade. Animals must also be familiar with the location of water before the most intense heat. It’s never a good idea to move cattle or other livestock to an unfamiliar paddock or yard during a heatwave.


Few farmers have enough steel sheds and other types of coverage to accommodate all their livestock. Too little shelter and shade can result in livestock overcrowding and smothering each other in the smaller shady areas of farm. During periods of extreme heat, you should work to provide as much shade as possible for your livestock. This might involve the construction of new shelters like steel sheds and barns. This process might involve other materials including cloth and timber. More reflective materials like aluminium and galvanised metals should be used as roofs when possible because they can mirror some of the sun’s most intense rays. It’s a good idea to construct shelters near water sources, especially if those sources are not in shaded areas.

Natural shade from trees is really important too. Individually planted trees should provide a large amount of coverage. Groves planted east to west and plantation blocks in paddocks can provide important shade as well. Lines of trees should always run east to west to offer as much shade as possible when the sun is directly overhead. Consider dividing large groups of animals into smaller ones, so there is less competition around shade and water sources in any given yard or paddock.

Handling and Transport

Movement of animals should be avoided at all cost during the most intense periods of heat. Handling during these times can cause dangerous increases in animals’ body temperatures, which can pose a serious threat. If animals must be handled or transported during extremely hot weather, do it during the coolest times of the day. Dairy cows should be milked later on in the day than usual, when the temperature has dipped. This will also maximise milk production.

When transporting take a carefully planned route which considers water and shade availability, assuming stops must be made. You should try to make as few stops as possible though, to minimise the heat build-up from the parked vehicle. Pack animals less densely and stop only in the shade and park at a right angle to the wind. Both of these points are to increase the airflow between livestock.

The intense heat is taxing for all animals. Take precaution to ensure their wellbeing. Water and shelter are the most important considerations for this. For more information on the ideal shelters for your cattle and livestock, please reach out to the team at Steel Supplies Charters Towers.