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Posts Tagged ‘heat stress’

dry pond and ban

flooded corn field

In 2016, many areas of the province saw very warm and dry conditions, and many wells were still dry leading into the winter. In other years, like the start to the 2017 growing season, the province experienced periods of excessive rain, leading to saturated soils and flooding. Both situations create many challenges for livestock and poultry farmers.

No one can control the weather, but we can plan for it. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) encourages you to plan for future weather – conserving water and using it efficiently can help during low water conditions, and having effective drainage systems in place can help with saturated soil and runoff.

Things to consider for low water conditions:

  • Plan ahead: Know how much water your animals need and try to predict how long it would take for your water sources to run dry. Have a contingency plan ready that you can carry out in case your water sources have maxed out. Use the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s Emergency Plan low water worksheet to help you with the contingency plan.
  • Include a list of alternative water sources in your contingency plan. This can include water haulers and well drillers. Keep in mind that these sources may be unavailable at the height of low water conditions, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
  • Think about installing water-metering equipment to get accurate measurements of water use.
  • Apply for a Permit to Take Water through the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (special rules and circumstances apply).
  • Monitor heat stress in your livestock and have management solutions on-hand when heat stress runs high, but water levels run low.
  • Look at your feed inventory now. If stocks are low for this time of year, consider looking for additional or alternative feed for fall and winter. It’s not too early!

Things to consider for excessive water conditions:

  • Look at your feed supply, as excessive rain can affect planting and harvesting times.
  • Make sure you have enough straw or other bedding materials.
  • Examine your property, your buildings and hard surfaces (like loading areas and parking lots) for flood risk areas. Install eavestroughs to redirect water away from your buildings and create a drainage plan. Plan the steps you’ll need to take to move livestock, feed and equipment in the event of a flood.
  • Create a plan to manage barnyard/feedlot runoff. Determine if you have enough liquid manure storage capacity to store extra material from wet barnyards, and have a plan ready if you don’t (such as using a neighbour’s storage). Also consider what you’ll do to avoid manure storage overflow from rain and flood water.
  • Have a plan ready in the event that manure spreading is delayed due to rain and your storages are full.
  • Think about your electricity generators – are they adequate for your farm’s needs in case of a power outage?
  • Pre-plan alternate routes to avoid travelling on flooded roads, considering services both into and out of the farm (such as feed trucks).

OMAFRA is working with other provincial ministries, conservation authorities and other partners to develop ways to help you manage water. There are existing resources that can help you, too:

Ontario has business risk management programs in place to help you when factors beyond your control affect your operation. Contact Agricorp for more information about these programs.

Visit OMAFRA’s Adverse Weather, Low Water, Irrigation and Drainage web pages for resources to help you prepare for various weather conditions.

Do you have questions about contingency planning? Contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

ontario.ca/omafra

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The University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, have jointly developed a free app available from Google Play or Blackberry Marketplace that lets you calculate the level of heat stress experienced by livestock.

 

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We may not be quite experiencing a heat wave yet, but there is sure to be hot weather coming. Anyone caring for livestock needs to be prepared for high temperatures.

OMAFRA has produced a free Heat Stress in Livestock and Poultry app for smartphones that can help determine when livestock are at risk of heat stress on the spot, either in the barn or at time of transport.

By entering the current temperature and relative humidity on your smartphone you can estimate heat stress risks quickly and easily. The app also suggests steps to take to reduce heat stress to maintain feed intake and productivity.

appCheck it out here.

The app is useful in assessing a whether a crisis is imminent, but routine maintenance can help avoid risk too. This would be a good time to clean fans, check that louvers and inlets are moving freely, and clean up the sensors and controllers. Ventilation systems need to be working at maximum efficiency and need to be tuned properly to maintain temperature and humidity at acceptable levels. A ventilation system failure can be catastrophic. Even alarm systems can fail so constant vigilance is required when things get hot.

When it it does get really hot outside, ventilation alone can’t provide adequate cooling. When pigs are too hot, they don’t eat. Pigs that don’t eat don’t grow. This is most apparent in heavier pigs nearing market, when the upper preferred temperature of the pig is only around 21C.

There are a few things that can be done to help keep pigs from overheating. Pigs need to lose heat either by contact with a cold surface, or through evaporation of water from their body surface. Since they don’t sweat, that moisture must come from somewhere else. Water sprinklers or drip systems are effective ways of providing relief from heat stress. 1-2 minutes of sprinkling every 20-30 minutes is all that is needed. Time it so that the water is nearly all evaporated before reaching the floor, and so that the ventilation system has time to clear the humidity before the next application.

Adequate drinking water is absolutely critical. Make sure there are enough drinkers for your animals. Go get wet and cool off yourself by thoroughly inspecting every drinker in your barn.

If you can’t make use of the Heat Stress app, this table can be used instead. The intersection of current temperature and humidity indicates the level of stress pigs may be facing, and the level of response that needs to be taken to reduce it (see below for some more options).

 

Signs of heat stress
• Evident discomfort/distress, pigs lying apart, body stretched out
• Manure patterns change, pen floors become wet/dirty, pigs all dirty
• Increased water consumption (up to 6x normal)
• Noticeable decrease in pen activity, slowness and lethargy
• Muscle trembling
• Rapid fall in feed consumption/reduced weight gains, pigs seem to stall out
• Very high respiration rate (panting)

Pigs will try to increase heat dissipation and decrease body heat production. Producers can aid this by making sure that:

• Pigs have unrestricted access to a good supply of clean water
• Timed water sprinkler/mister system triggered by room temperature
• Proper ventilation for the size of room/weight of pig/time of year
• Enough pen space for size of pigs, do not overcrowd (all the pigs can lie down without touching each other and still access feeders/waterers/dunging area without stepping on pen mates)
• Diets can be reformulated in the summer to be more nutrient dense, while ensuring
nutrient needs (amount/day) are still being met.

Transport during any season is also an area the can cause heat stress in pigs and may result in death loss. When possible try to:
• Load animals in groups less than five
• Adjust transport to early morning or at night (summer)
• Load fewer pigs per load on hot, humid days
• Provide wet shavings when temperature is over 15C, do not use straw
• When temperature is over 27C, sprinkle pigs with a course spray of water prior to loading
• Do not pour large amounts over cold water over on an overheated pig as the shock may kill it
• Load and unload promptly to avoid heat buildup
• Death loss due to heat stress is most often attributed to power outages in hog barns when there is no alternate power source or power loss back-up plan. Test your alternate power generation and power outage alarms monthly for fan operated barns
(static pressure barns). Check panic doors/drop curtain releases for natural ventilated barns. Heat build-up non-ventilated barns can cause fatalities in all seasons.

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Free download for Blackberry and Android

The App allows producers to calculate the heat stress index on their smart phone by inputting the temperature in C or F and the relative humidity, either at that moment or by inputting the forecast temperature and relative humidity for later in the day. The producer then gets an output that links them to various management options they can use to reduce the potential heat stress on their animals. Now producers have a tool that readily puts the information they need at their fingertips, anytime, anywhere!

Key Features:

  • 7 types of livestock
  • A variety of ventilation systems
  • 3 languages: English, French and Spanish
  • 5% increments for humidity changes
  • 2 degree increment temperature changes (metric/imperial)
  • Levels from No Heat Stress to Emergency
  • Practical actions to take to reduce the effects of heat stress

 Image

This is a picture of a page from the Heat Stress for Livestock and Poultry App.

 

 

 

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Free download for Blackberry and Android
The Heat Stress in Livestock and Poultry App allows producers to calculate heat stress based on the measured barn temperature and relative humidity. The resulting calculation shows the level of heat stress experienced by the livestock or poultry. It provides the user with suggestions to reduce heat stress and improve animal and poultry comfort to help maintain feed intake and overall productivity. The mobile app integrates research and production information from OMAF and RA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs) publications and University of Guelph research on livestock housing. In addition to English, the App supports French and Spanish.

The app features:
– 3 languages: English, French and Spanish
– 7 types of livestock
– temperature changes in 2 degree increments (metric/imperial)
– humidity changes in 5% increments (metric/imperial)
– a variety of ventilation systems
– heat stress levels ranging from No Heat Stress to Emergency
– practical actions to take to reduce the effects of heat stress in livestock and poultry

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