Posts Tagged ‘hay feeders’

by Claude Villeneuve |

The main problem with feeding hay outside to horses is that they like to spread hay around, use it as bedding and spoil it. And as you know for sure is a big waste of hay especially if you paid for quality hay. And to make things worse, all that spoiled wasted and compacted hay has to be cleaned up around the feeder or feeding area. Also, spoilage and waste from all weather conditions has to be considered in designing horse hay feeders.

Of course a solution to this problem, would be to feed only the quantity of hay that your horses are hungry for at the time of feeding, so they eat it all and not waste any. But it also implies you being around when needed, nice weather or not. Since most people want more and more leisure time, there is a need for a feeding method where the hay could stay inside the feeder when not in need, and stay protected from rain, snow and sun. This way one could go from feeding a few times a day to a few times a week.

While an efficient hay feeder would cut down on expenses for one who buys hay, it would sure cut down on work for those who produce their own hay. Most users estimate that a minimum of 30% and up to 40% of hay can be wasted both by the horses and weather conditions.

Other problems such as wounding of horses caused by the feeder and a better social behaviour at the feeder should also be taken into consideration.

Fortunately, such a horse hay feeder exists. It keeps the hay inside the feeder protected from weather. It is completely safe as far as wounding animals and it greatly ameliorates social behaviour around the feeder. Overall this hay feeder will save a considerable amount of time, work, hay and money.

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by Dr. Kathleen Crandell |

Using round-baled hay is attractive to horse owners because this forage form is less labor-intensive, more convenient, and less expensive than feeding hay in square bales. Some of the drawbacks are excessive hay waste, overconsumption, and weight gain among horses. Several round-bale hay feeders have been designed to address some of the drawbacks, especially wastage of hay, but to date there have not been any published comparisons.

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Researchers in Minnesota conducted an experiment that would measure hay wastage from nine round-bale feeders of differing designs as well as the economics of how long it would take before the feeder would pay for itself in savings related to less wasted hay.

Twenty-five mature Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred mares and geldings with free-choice access to water and a trace-mineralized salt block were fed orchardgrass round bales in nine different commercial round-bale feeders. To test the feeders, the horses were divided into groups of five and then exposed to one of nine different round-bale feeders, or the control of no feeder, for four days. When the horses were switched to a different feeder, they received a new round bale. During the time each group was housed with the hay in the feeder, all the hay on the ground was collected daily, and at the end of four days all the hay left in the feeder was dried and weighed. Care was taken not to include manure and dirt when collecting waste hay. From the savings in hay waste over the control bales, the researchers calculated the number of months it would take to pay for each feeder, using a figure of $112/metric ton for the hay.

During the study all the feeders were found to be safe, although one of the feeders left rub marks on the sides of the horses’ faces. No feeder restricted intake and intakes were similar for all the feeders, ranging from 2% to 2.4% body weight per day. Hay waste differed between round-bale feeder designs and ranged from 5% to 19%, while the waste for the control no-feeder was 57%. There was no significant difference in hay waste among four feeders that had a circular design. In general, more restrictive feeders led to less waste, while feeders that provided more access to the hay resulted in more waste.

Hay-waste savings necessary to pay for feeders varied from less than 1 month to 19 months. This variation was due to the wide range in prices for the feeders ($147 to $3,200).

The results suggest that using round-bale feeders definitely cut the wastage of hay, but the reduction of hay loss for the differing feeders and the time to recoup the cost of the bale feeder is highly variable.


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Baled hay is available in various sizes, including round bales varying from 1.2 m x 1.5 m to 1.8 m x 1.8 m (4 ft x 5 ft to 6 ftx 6 ft), or large rectangular bales. These larger bales are being used to feed horses more than ever before, for several reasons:

  • Harvesting ease — A much larger tonnage of hay can be handled per hour.
  • Labour saving for harvest and storage — Less manual labour is required to handle the hay. It is easier and cheaper to use tractors and mechanical means.
  • Storage — Mechanical handling makes it easy to store large volumes of hay, and storage facilities can be as simple as bale tarps.

Offsetting these are several significant disadvantages that include:

  • The need for a tractor with a front-end loader for storing the bales and transporting bales during the winter feeding period.
  • The need for the feeders to be accessible year round regardless of the weather conditions, e.g., snow or mud.
  • The dustiness of round bales — Dust can be associated with the growth of mould on hay pre-baling and, with too high a moisture level in the bales and/or improper storage (moisture or humidity wicking up from below the bales), post-baling. See the information sheet Using and Feeding Round Bales to Horses on the OMAFRA website.
  • The design of round bale feeders, meant for cattle, which can be dangerous when used with horses.

Requirements of a Good Round-Bale Feeder for Horses

A well-made feeder should incorporate the following design characteristics:

  • A smooth-surfaced, solid-bottom pan that allows rain and snow melt to drain but catches the leaves, which the horses can vacuum up.
  • Partially restricted access to the bale so there is less selection and less wastage. This is achieved by using a design with an inner basket to contain the bale.
  • Sufficient overall height so the horses can’t reach over and pull the hay from the bale.
  • Sufficient chest height so the horses can’t get a foot caught in the feeder when they paw.
  • Easy to move with a tractor.

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Advantages of Using a Feeder

Considering the substantial effort required to produce high-quality hay, an equal effort should, in turn, be made to minimize the losses from contamination and waste during the feeding process. Too often, a round bale is dumped into a field and, within a few days, the horses tear the bale apart, defecate and urinate on it, tramp it into the ground and use the remainder as expensive bedding. Hay fed on the ground is quickly contaminated with sand and parasites. Without the protection of a bale feeder, 50% of the dry matter content of bales can be lost. In addition, a huge clean-up job awaits you in the spring. The removal of this compacted, wasted hay, manure and ice necessitates a major effort with a tractor with a front-end loader.

Well-constructed hay feeders reduce the waste hay to less than 10%. The inner basket keeps the hay off the ground and prevents the wicking of moisture from the ground. This is a major benefit over feeders that allow the bale to contact the ground.

Disadvantages of Using a Feeder

Feeders should not be accidents waiting to happen. They need to be well constructed and capable of withstanding the rough-housing of horses, including the rubbing of bums and necks. Areas around feeders are high traffic areas. They quickly become soupy, muddy places in the fall and spring of the year, especially in areas with high amounts of rainfall, poor drainage and heavy clay soils. When a feeder remains in the same location for most of the year, provisions should be made to improve the footing around the feeder. Options include moving the feeder regularly, constructing a cement pad extending distances of 3–4.6 m (10–15 ft) around the feeder or using landscape (geotextile) cloth. See the information sheet Management of Mud and Holes Around Gateways and High Density Areas on the OMAFRA website.

Feeder Placement

Feeders should be easily accessible year round. When the snow flies and the drifts build, driving a tractor into a field with a 227-kg- (500-lb-) or-more bale mounted on a front-end loader can be a problem, unless you have 4-wheel drive. By placing the feeder perpendicular to the fence and adjacent to a driveway, which is kept open year round, the bales can be lifted over the fence and dropped directly into the feeder without entering the paddock. A feeder placed perpendicular to the fence divides the horse group in half and reduces the feed competition.

Round-Bale Feeder Construction

The bale feeder described in this Fact-sheet is to be used with 1.2 m x 1.5 m (4 ft x 5 ft) round bales. It is best constructed with 25-mm (1-in) square tubing, welded so that there are no rough edges, corners or welds. The feeder consists of:

  • An inner basket with staves (uprights to hold the hay and bale in place). The distance between inner staves can vary from 140 mm (5.5 in.), if a lot of small, square bales are being used in addition to the round bales, to 305 mm (12 in.). The wider spacing allows a person to crawl into the feeder from the side instead of over the top to remove waste material. However, a larger amount of hay will be pulled from the inner basket, increasing the wastage. The narrower spacing reduces the hay loss when using small, square bales but makes it a little harder for horses to eat a round bale that fits tightly into the basket.
  • A tray that has sides angled upwards. Plastic PVC puck board (of at least 13 mm (1/2-in.) thickness) is attached to the frame of the base. This is much easier for horses to keep clean.
  • An outer frame with staves that support the structure and separate the horses when feeding
  • The measurements are nominal, meaning that they are approximate sizes and are given in on-centre distances (O.C.).

This feeder is built for the typical, mature 15-hand horse and could be increased in size to accommodate draft horses. Quarter horse weanlings have had no problem eating from this bale feeder.


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by Bob Coleman |

While feeding hay to horses is certainly a common practice, what can horse owners do to control waste? It is certainly easy to just throw the hay on the ground and let the horses clean it up. However, this method of feeding can result in significant amounts of wasted feed due to trampling and soiling of the hay.

How can horse owners reduce waste? The simple answer is to use a suitable hay feeder. One feeder that can be used for 2-3 horses at one time is a simple box. The feeder is made with a 2 x 4 lumber frame covered with ¾ inch plywood. The dimensions for this feeder are 4’ wide, 6’ long and 2’ high. If you lay this out carefully, you only need two sheets of 4’ x 8’ plywood. Horse owners can cover the edges of the feeder with something like sheet rock strips to reduce the incidence of wood chewing. Make sure the metal strips have no sharp edges.

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With this box feeder, be careful to only feed what the horses need for a day. This regular feeding schedule can also aid in controlling waste as the amount of hay in the feeder at one time will not exceed the capacity of the feeder.

Will horses still root out some hay while feeding? Yes, that does happen but in general, using a suitable feeder results in 5-7% waste while no feeder results in 20-35% waste. Hay is expensive and controlling waste results in saving feed and reduced feed costs. With three horses being fed 20 lbs of hay a day, they waste 30%; that is 6 lbs of hay per horse per day. The horse owner will need to either feed more hay to meet requirements and account for the hay being wasted or the horses will lose weight because their requirements are not being met. Common reasons for feeding on the ground are because it is natural for the horse to eat from the ground and they clean it all up before I feed more. While the feeding at a low level may be similar to the natural grazing of the horse, cleaning it all up does not happen as much as we would like it to.

Controlling hay loss because of waste helps reduce feed cost and in no time, the feeder is paid for with those savings.


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by Ed Haag |

Extension beef specialist Dan Faulkner admits that when he and his colleagues from the University of Illinois and Iowa State University began collecting data from 225 commercial herds in an effort to better understand what factors had the greatest impact on profitability, few would have predicted that one factor would emerge heads above the rest. “About 56% of the variation in profitability was attributable to feed and hay costs,” he says. “It was a huge factor in determining profitability.”

For Faulkner and others who reviewed the survey results, the data was telling. “To me, if feed costs explain over 50% of the variation in profit, it is the one producers should really focus on,” he says.

One beef scientist who took notice of what the Illinois and Iowa survey revealed was Dan Buskirk, department of animal science, Michigan State University (MSU). For him, there was an obvious follow-up question: What was the specific reason for the variations in profitability in relation to feeding costs?

Buskirk then recalled one of his school’s livestock educators saying that he had observed a marked difference in how effective specific types of round hay feeders were at controlling waste.

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After checking the existing literature, Buskirk discovered very little had been published on the subject in recent years. But one study completed in the 1980s showed that losses of hay due to the way it was fed could reach 20% to 30% of the dry matter fed.

New research needed

With several unique designs for large bale feeders in use (with more than one claiming reduced waste potential), Buskirk was curious to see if those claims would stand up under scientific scrutiny. He was particularly interested in how cattle behaved when they were accessing the different feeders. He believed that a better understanding of the relationship between feeder design and animal behavior could provide an opportunity for more efficient feed use and also enhance animal performance and well-being.

Based on his initial findings and the encouragement of his colleagues, Buskirk formed a research team to evaluate four of the most commonly used round bale feeders: the cone feeder, the ring feeder, the trailer feeder, and the cradle feeder. The team would also monitor the feeding behavior for each feeder design and the relationship between feeding behavior, feeder design, and feed loss.

A group of 160 nonlactating, pregnant beef cows from the MSU herd were used to evaluate the quantity of hay loss and feeding behaviors from different round bale feeders.

These animals were split into eight groups of 20 and assigned by weight and body condition score to one of eight pens with the four feeder designs being evaluated. All feeder types provided approximately 37 cm linear feeder space per animal.

Prior to feeding, the round bales were weighed and sampled. During the study, the hay that fell onto the concrete surrounding the feeder was considered waste and was collected and sampled daily. After seven days, each hay feeder type was assigned to a different pen for seven more days.

Because Buskirk felt any discrepancy in waste between feeders would probably be traced back to cattle interaction around the units, he added an animal behavior component to his study. “I knew if we had differences, the next question would be why,” he says. “So at the onset of the project, working with our animal behaviorist, Adroaldo Zanella, we set up video cameras to record the cattle interaction around the feeders.”

No shortage of surprises

For Buskirk and his team, there were surprises once the data was processed. The feeder to receive the highest marks was the cone feeder with a dry matter hay loss of 3.5%, followed by the ring feeder with 6.1%, the trailer feeder with 11.4%, and the cradle feeder with 14.6%.

“My guess before the study was that the cradle feeder would prove the best at reducing waste because any hay that wasn’t consumed over the feeder would drop back down to the bottom of the cradle,” says Buskirk. What he hadn’t calculated when making his prediction was that boss cow behavior would even trump what seemed like a well-designed system.

“We found that with the cradle feeder cows tended to walk alongside of it and butt several cows out of the way at the same time,” he says. “When that happens a cow backs up and drops half of what she is eating on the ground.”

He points out this behavior was observed with both the cradle and the trailer feeder but was nearly absent with the cone and the ring feeders.

Researchers found cattle interaction wasn’t the only reason for excessive waste. Individual cow feeding behavior could result in increased hay loss if it wasn’t controlled by feeder design.

“Round feeders were set lower, which allowed cattle to put their heads directly in the feeder,” says Buskirk. He notes that this offered a more natural grazing position and encouraged the cattle to keep their heads in the feeders throughout much of the process.

“In contrast, with flat-sided feeders, they tended to reach in, grab a mouthful of hay, and pull their heads out to chew it. In the process, some hay ended up on the ground,” he says.

Similarly, feeder designs that required cattle to access hay from under a top rail were far less likely to waste hay since cows didn’t toss it over their backs or along their sides.


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by Cynthia Cooper |

With many parts of the world affected by weather extremes, feed for horses is getting more expensive and less readily available, so it makes sense to stretch what you can get as far as possible.

So how do we do that without compromising our horse’s health and well being?

It’s a question I’ve been thinking on a lot lately as my horses have challeged me to balance the quantity they need for healthy gut function (and not eating weeds), with keeping them down to healthy weight, most being mature riding horses verging on the fat side!

One of the big discoveries I made is that hay fed loose on the ground can be gobbled up quickly leaving the herd hungry for more even after eating their entire ration which is based on their combined body weight.

It’s easy to work out – I have seven horses in one herd – there are four that weigh close to 400kg and 3 that weigh around 500kg so thats a total of 3100kg. As they have no pasture to speak of, I’m feeding them 2.5% of their body weight in food a day – that’s 10kg per 400kg horse and 12.5kg per 500kg horse – a combined total of 77.5kg.

As they get a small feed of chaff and minerals which weighs less than a kilo each, I’m left with providing 77kg of hay so I weighed my bales and they average 17kg each resulting in 4.5 bales per day for the herd. Phew – I knew I did maths at school for a reason!

So to combat the guzzling nature of horses that have no pasture, I made hay feeders that have a mesh screen they have to pull the hay through and it stops them tossing it all over the place to get to the seeds. These are old apple bins and fit a bale on each side.

I had to put a screen on one so that the ‘hog feeder‘ (2nd in command) allowed someone to share with him!

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The biggest issue with this is that they just stand around in one place for a large part of the day – at least they have to walk down the hill to get to water. Some days they go out to graze a strip of track I’m eating out so the amount of hay is halved then, and they get to walk a further back to the water.

So I started looking for ideas on how to make some way of containing hay that made them work to get it, and could be easily put up in several places around the 10 acres they occupy.

My breeding herd have also presented a challenge in that some of them can cope with grass and need it, while others couldn’t. My old broodmare who is generally a good doer, had developed greasy heel from being allowed too much rich grass in spring because I mistakenly assumed she would need extra to make all that milk for her foal.

I’ve discovered through trial and error in the process of clearing up the greasy heal, that the tall stemmy grass with seeds (usually cocksfoot and ryegrass) will cause her leg to flare up right away. I could actually see more swelling and weeping of toxins at the end of the day when she was allowed out on the seedy grass. My solution was to set up a track around the paddock to stimulate more movement, and slash the seeded grass on the track, leaving it for a couple of weeks to dry out – it was even rained on so that washed more sugars out. Freshly slashed grass can have more toxins that affect horses as the grass tries to recover, so its a good idea to leave it at least a week or two before allowing horses back on.

Now, as the track gets eaten down, I can let the youngsters in the middle for a few hours a day to eat a bit extra, and the mare can stay out on feed she can tolerate, supplemented with a bit of hay and her regular minerals and chaff. The beauty of this is that the mare can move around with the herd so no-one feels left out or in need of running through a fence. It’s also a great way to wean a foal as they are only stopped from drinking and not from being near their mum.

The more I look for information on using tracks, commonly called Paddock Paradise, the more I see it as the ultimate way to keep horses and stretch the grass consumption over a longer period of time too. During the drought, the track can be the sacrifice area and the majority of the pasture can survive with reduced or minimal grazing.

In spring, the track is the safest place for equines prone to laminitis, tender hooves, and behavioural problems associated with rye grass consumption – or even with weed consumption such as flatweed (false dandelion) that causes stringhalt. In this case you would need to scrape the track back to bare dirt and feed hay.

To counteract the problem of manure and not having the ability to pick it all up (most of our pastures are on steep land so impossible to use a ‘poo sucker’ as I call them), I’m setting up a track in every paddock so the horses can be rotated around them, allowing some to rest.


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Slow feeding is important, but continuous slow feeding is much more important.

Continuous slow feeding does not work until your horse has forgotten that there is an end to the hay supply. As long as he remembers that there might be an end to the supply of hay he will most likely still eat too fast and not chew the food enough. Chewing is extremely important for a horse. It is when he has chewed enough he feels content, not when he has filled his stomach. If he does not chew enough he will not be able to digest the food the way he is supposed to. When the Continuous slow feeding starts to work your horse will show you both more harmony and more willingness to work. He might also be friendlier to other horses and easier to handle.

Horse Hay Feeder - 3 Piece Round 8ft w/Steel Lower Enclosure - 16 gauge frame. (Picture courtesy of

It is extremely important that your horse never can fill his mouth with hay. When your horse fills his mouth with food he will not chew it enough and the digestion will therefore not be effective. Fantastic things happen when he has learned to eat the natural way. He will even graze differently after a winter with a well working “continuous slow feeder”. This is much better than spreading the hay on the ground since it is much to easy to eat hay that is loose on the ground or on the floor. One small piece of hay at a time is the goal!

Continuous slow feeding restricts the amount of hay your horse can eat per minute instead of the amount of hay available to him. You will gain in all ends.

  • No more wasted hay.
  • Less consumption because of better digestion.
  • Your horse is kept busy eating 16-20 hours as he is supposed to.
  • Obese horses usually loose weight.
  • Thin horses usually gain weight.
  • No more fighting over food since it is always available.
  • No specific feeding times for you to keep (no early mornings or lunch feedings).
  • Your horse will never be hungry and always ready to go.

Important things to consider:

There must be hay available to the horse at all times. 1½ hours after the horse has stopped eating the unstoppable production of bile (the horse has no gall bladder, he produces and releases bile continuously) will burn the inside of the small intestine and give the horse stomach ulcers.

It is not until the horse has forgotten that the hay feeder ever can be empty that the feeding system starts to work. Then the horses slow down their eating pace, take the pauses they need and each horse in the herd takes care of their individual eating needs (we have Shetland ponies and horses eat together from the same feeders).

Give your horse three weeks to get used to this new way of being fed before passing any judgments.

If you want to know how much they are eating you must look at the average consumption over a three day period because they do not necessarily eat as much every day.

Things not to do:

Do not feed servings or portions in the hay feeders.

If you believe your horse still gets too much you can always mix the hay with oat straw of good hygienic quality. If you are absolutely sure your horse needs more get hay that contains more (but be careful with alfalfa since the balance between calcium and phosphor is completely off).


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To get more information on grain weight conversion, hog feeders, and hay feeders, please visit Barn World.

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Short Term: Down
Net Long Futures and Options: 154796
Long Term: Down
Change: -6000
Overnight Trade: U -10 3/4 Z -12 3/4
Opening Calls: Higher

The corn numbers weren’t as negative as feared. Ending stocks estimates for both the old crop and new crop were higher than last month at 880 and 870 million respectively, which was expected, but not as high as the average trade guesses. New crop ending stocks are still below 1 billion, which is a psychological boost, and will return the focus of the market to the weather, which at the moment is turning more bullish.

Short Term: Down

Net Long Futures and Options: -51255
Long Term: Down
Change: -3000
Overnight Trade: Chicago: U -12 3/4 KC: U -10 1/4
Opening Calls: Higher

The wheat numbers ended up being friendly with the new crop ending stocks estimate actually falling below last month at 670 million. Surprisingly, to me at least, was that this was not because of lower production. Production was actually increased, but the demand figures were increased enough, particularly exports, to offset the higher production. This should allow for a decent short covering rally in the wheat.

Short Term: Up Net Long Futures and Options: 33449
Long Term: Down Change: +1000
Overnight Trade: U -11 X-11 1/4
Opening Calls: Mixed

The soybean figures were slightly negative with the old crop ending stocks at 200 million and new crop at 175. Since the numbers were really close to expectations I think that the weather will be a lot more important that the report today and the rest of the week. The heat moving into the corn belt should be supportive to the market.

Live Cattle
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Calls: 10-30 Lower

Live cattle futures closed steady to moderately higher on Monday, as traders ignored slumping world economic concerns to rally from sharply lower opening trade. Limit higher move in the August lean hog contract provided support. Hogs are higher on rumors of large exports into China. Less competing meat into the fourth quarter should provide excellent support for the fat cattle market. Overnight markets have trimmed back most of Monday’s gains. equities continue to struggle.

Feeder Cattle
Short Term: Up
Long Term: Up
Opening Call: 30-50 Lower

Feeder cattle futures posted moderate to stout gains on Monday, supported by lower corn and higher fats. Cash feeders continue to support, at near record high levels. This mornings’ grain supply/demand report could change opening calls for the feeders. Expectations for a low June placement number will add support.


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With temperatures expected to reach dangerous highs this week in the middle of the country, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension beef veterinarian Grant Dewell urges beef cattle producers to prepare for these weather conditions to maintain herd health.

Facts you should know

  • Feedlot cattle are at higher risk than pastured cattle, which have the ability to seek shade and avoid radiant heat from dirt or concrete surfaces.
  • Temperatures exceeding 80 degrees F cause physiologic stress on cattle. Though they are not at risk of dying, their health can deteriorate.
  • Compared to other animals, cattle cannot dissipate their heat load effectively due to their inability to sweat.
  • Cattle’s core temperature peaks 2 hours after peak environmental temperature.
  • It takes at least 6 hours for cattle to dissipate their heat load.
  • Black cattle and heavy cattle and respiratory compromised cattle have an increased risk of heat stress, and higher chances of death.

Managing the heat

Careful monitoring: Don’t work cattle at all in high heat. Finish working cattle before 9 to 10 a.m. during the summer. Do not work cattle in the evenings after it has cooled off. It takes at least 6 hours for cattle to recover from their heat load. Cattle should not wait in processing areas longer than 30 minutes.

Water requirements: Cattle lose water more quickly from increased respiration and perspiration when it’s hot. Consuming water is the only way cattle can reduce core body temperature. Cattle need 3 inches of linear water space per head during the summer. The supply should be able to deliver 1.1% of body weight of the cattle per hour. A 1,000-pound animal needs about 1.5 gallons of water per hour. Introducing extra water tanks before extreme heat will allow cattle to become accustomed to them.

Feeding changes: Cattle should not be fed in the morning when body heat will peak when environmental temperatures are also at their highest (midday). Cattle should receive at least 70% of their feed 2 to 4 hours after the day’s peak temperatures. Changing the ration is controversial, but the general recommendation is to reduce the diet energy content of feed by 5 to 7%.

Shade and ventilation: There should be 20 to 40 square feet of shade per animal. Shade structures are most adequate when they have an east-west orientation and are more than 8 feet off the ground to heighten air movement. Removing tall vegetation within 150 feet of the feedlot pens will also expose cattle to more air movement.

Cooling techniques: Sprinklers can cool cattle during times of stress by increasing evaporative cooling and reducing ground temperature. Sprinklers are adequate when they wet the animal and not just mist the air. Sprinklers should not interfere with drinking water supply. Use sprinklers intermittently to avoid mud and increased humidity. Assess water temperature: thermal shock from too cold of water can kill cattle that are extremely stressed. Once sprinklers are utilized, they should be continued until the heat is over.

Fly control will also reduce cattle stress. Biting flies cause cattle to bunch up, decreasing cooling. Minimize breeding areas for flies and apply insecticides to decrease fly populations before heat stress.


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To get more information on grain weight conversion, hog feeders, and hay feeders, please visit Barn World.

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Summer months can trigger heat stress in livestock, especially in pigs, according to Mark Whitney, a swine specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension. Pigs are especially challenged because they lack functional sweat glands to help them efficiently reduce body heat.

Even though the majority of pigs today are raised in modern confinement facilities that provide some climate control, producers still face limits in their ability to cool pigs during extreme heat, he says.

Pigs naturally remove body heat during periods of heat stress through a combination of accelerated respiration, decreased feed intake, increased water consumption and adjustments in physical activity and movement.

Pork producers can minimize heat stress for their pigs by:

  1. Preparing and maintaining cooling systems. Check cooling systems and ensure that thermostats, fans, air inlets, drip coolers, sprinklers, cooling cells and other related equipment are set for summer usage. Use of sprinklers, along with fans, can reduce the temperature in barns provided sprinklers are set correctly. Avoid sprinklers that provide a very fine mist because they will increase humidity levels in the barn. Cooling cells work more effectively to lower humidity levels. Adjust ventilation systems to remove excess moisture from buildings.
  2. Adjusting the feeding program. Since pigs will lower their feed intake during periods of high temperatures, increase the nutritional density of the diet for growing pigs and lactating sows. Adding fat to the hog feeder will also increase the caloric density, but if other nutrient levels are not also increased accordingly, animal performance will still suffer, Whitney says.
  3. Modifying procedures during load-out and transportation of pigs. Transportation is perhaps the most stressful time for pigs during periods of heat. Remove feed from pigs for 12-18 hours before shipment (remove feed but not water). Load fewer pigs in order to allow maximum air movement. Keep vehicles in constant motion and open all vents and slats. Avoid moving pigs during the heat of the day, and allow more time to load pigs. Pigs are apt to become fatigued during hot weather. Additional time and patience are needed to effectively load pigs, while reducing pig and handler stress.

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