Are you looking for ways to keep goats cool in hot weather?
You aren’t alone. Many goat producers are looking for ways to keep goats cool. This is a commonly asked question before the heat of summer hits. And with good reason. Some summer temperatures can be downright miserable and the weather is not something we can control.
Whether you have a boer goat or a pygmy goat, you just never know what the environment will hit.
But, we can be prepared for the worse when it comes to keeping goats cool. So, in this post, you’ll discover:
- 9+ Ways to Keep Goats Cool during scorching temperatures.
- I will answer the popular question: Do goats sweat? Don’t blink or you’ll miss the answer!
- I’ll let you in on some symptoms of heat stress in goats to watch out for.
So, sit back, relax and read on, friend. We’ll begin with an obvious one for keeping goats cool in hot weather…just because it’s so dang important. Keeping Goats Hydrated.
Keep goats hydrated
Water is the #1 nutrient that all animals need to stay alive. Plus, drinking fresh, cool, clean water is a great way to help animals stay cool during the heat.
Keep water fresh, clean and rodent free. If goats know they have fresh water at all times, they will be willing to drink it.
However, if you don’t think your goats are drinking enough H2O, try letting them drink some Kool-Aid or Gatorade instead. Not only will they be hydrating their bodies, but they will also be getting some healthy electrolytes as well!
Provide Plenty of Shade
Goats like the heat, however, it’s a really good idea to provide shade for them. They might graze a little bit through the day, but in the afternoon you’ll find them looking for protection from the bright sun.
If you have very little shade trees for your goats, you can build them some shade. Put up a tarp or tent that can aid in shading them for some relief.
Frozen Water Bottles or Water Jugs
Grab some empty water bottles or milk jugs, fill them with water and freeze. Then, you can place them into the goat’s water or simply set them in the pen for the goats to rub on.
They might also lick it to cool their tongues on a hot day.
But most importantly, the purpose of this is to cool the water and help it to taste fresh. This will hopefully keep your goats wanting more.
Super spoiled goats deserve real wind power. If these are your goats, you can set up some fans for them.
Fans are great because they simply keep air moving. And air flow or ventilation is so important – Especially if your goats are housed in a shed or building.
This brings back memories of my childhood. While growing up with show livestock, we would rig up misters each summer that our show animals could stand or lay under to keep cool. They sprayed just a little bit of water at a time.
We would turn them on in the morning and off during the heat of the day. Although goats do sweat and can be wet during the heat of the day, it’s still a good idea to keep the change in their temperature to a minimum in order to prevent heat shock.
And that also applies to hand rinsing as well.
Rinsing them during the cool part of the day
If the temperature outside is hotter than hot, it might be a good idea to rinse animals during the cool part of the day.
Again, this has to do with the keeping the goat’s internal temperature at a safe and healthy level. If cool water is sprayed on a hot animal, it could shock the system. However, if the goat is nice and cool in the morning or evening, rinsing the hair during that time of day is a good idea.
Not only does it help keep them cool, but it helps the hair grow for show animals. And this method primarily works best for show animals. You probably wouldn’t be able to rinse your wild commercial doe herd that is out on pasture.
They are too wild for that nonsense! So, here’s a great option for keeping the doe herd cool.
Build them Caves
Letting the goats pretend they are Indiana Jones might be fun for them. Below the ground is nice and cool. It’s a great way to protect goats from the summer’s heat.
Basically, you can just dig holes or trenches, leaving a goat sized opening for them to run in and hide from the sun and heat. It is some work for you, but your goats will learn just where to go when they start to feel the need to break from the heat.
Here’s another option for somewhere cool for the goats to hang out. They love to hang out up off the ground.
Providing a trampoline or something with openings that goats can lay on under shade trees is a secret weapon for keeping goats cool. This allows air circulation to blow underneath them while they are on top of it.
Some other options that might work for this include:
- Lattice fencing
- Old Pallets
The possibilities are endless. Remember that air ventilation and circulation is everything. Just be sure when you build your goats’ new cooling structure that it’s secure for the weight of your goats.
This highly depends on the breed of your goats and what they are adapted to. I know my herd of commercial meat goats would not set foot in a pool. In fact, they have a huge pond they could sit in but they don’t.
For the most part, goats despise water and prefer to be on dry ground under the shade. Or up off the ground as I discussed before.
Still, some dairy goat producers will swear by this method of keeping goats cool during the heat of summer. And it definitely doesn’t hurt to try something new.
Remember, though to follow the safe rules of heat management before diving into the pool.
Remember to Be Careful With Extreme Heat
It’s very important to never forget what the drastic change in temperature can do to any animal.
- Leave them alone during the day. Try not to work goats in the heat if you don’t have to.
- Pay close attention to their diet. Don’t let them eat too much feed.
- Bringing them into air conditioning and back out into the heat can be a shock to the system.
- Shaving their hair is really not needed. They need a cover to protect them from sunburn and cover actually keeps them cooler.
- Time of the day of rinsing them. Cool water on hot skin can be a shock to the system so just have caution.
Basically, try not to change up the temperature too much that can affect their internal temperature. Think of your own body.
After sitting in the air conditioning all day…how would your body react to venturing out in 100 degree heat? I know it’s a pretty big difference and can result in illness. So, the rule of thumb is to just be sure the external temperature isn’t drastically changed to much for the goats.
And to know the symptoms of heat stroke…just in case.
Read Here about How to Hydrate YOURSELF!
Goat Stroke Symptoms
So, what are those heat stroke symptoms? Some of the symptoms might look other goat illnesses and symptoms, such as goat polio.
Here are a few signs of stress in goats when it comes to heat:
- Excessive panting
- Goat unable to stand
- A very high internal body temperature (Over 104 degrees F).
The University of Maryland has an awesome article on heat stress of goats and sheep. Read it here.
As for checking the body temperature, there is no better way to figure out what is wrong with your goat when he/she appears to be sick. You need a digital thermometer to determine the temperature. And take it rectally.
If the body temperature is indeed that high, find a cooler place for your goat. Do not take it into the air conditioning – but you need to find a place where the temperature can gradually come down safely:
- A shady place
- Cave or trench
- A building with good air circulation
Then, place a cool towel or ice bag on your goat to help it cool down. Continue checking the internal temperature.
You NEED a digital thermometer. NEVER go without.
Read more about “How to Figure Out Why Your Goat Is Sick”
Some Goats Handle Heat Better Than Others
The way goats handle heat varies between several factors:
- Physical Appearance
As usual, goats who are used to an area will have better luck and stamina with heat compared to others. This is why I strongly suggest keeping replacement does as well as purchasing local to grow your herd. Especially during the season of extreme temperatures.
Learn how to choose replacement doelings here
Also, age is a factor. Younger animals and older animals tend to have a harder time in the heat.
Finally, physical appearance. The big difference is horned animals. Horned animals tend to handle heat better than goats with no horns. Also body condition (how fat an animal is), can have an effect on heat tolerance.
And this also depends on the variation in temperature, which affects body temperature. So, I’ve given you 9+ safe ways to keep goats cool. I’ve also given you a few things to avoid when thinking of how to manage your goat herd in the heat.
So, Take Proper Care of Your Goats When It’s Hot
Goats and hot weather mesh better than many other animals, but it’s still important to make sure you have primary needs in check. The above are super easy ways to care for your goats in extreme heat. The big ones (primary factors):
- Good Nutrition
- Air Ventilation
These few factors will greatly help aid in the health of your goats. Then, extra measures:
- Frozen Water Bottles
The extra measures are just a little extra things you can do to keep your goats comfortable. Please understand that the extra measures are not the primary. You can easily do the primary to keep your goats healthy.
So, focus on what you have and what your goats need to stay nice and cool in the extreme heat of summer.
I hope you enjoyed this post featuring ways to keep goats cool in the summer. Please let me know in the comments how you help prevent heat stress in goats in your herd.