While we can’t control the weather, the impact of weather on your sheep can be minimised with preventative measures.
Limit the impact of the weather on sheep
- Providing quality and nutritious food and adequate access to clean water, ensuring it is in a familiar place.
- Being aware of weather forecasts when putting recently shorn sheep and other vulnerable sheep into paddocks and exposed areas.
- Timing shearing where possible to prevent unnecessary exposure of recently shorn sheep to extreme weather.
- Separating sheep in poor condition or with a history of respiratory diseases etc. from the rest and providing needed shelter, feed and treatment.
- Actively monitoring sheep for signs such as decreased eating and restlessness to allow preventative action to be quickly taken.
- Providing adequate shade and shelter in extreme heat and cold, especially during lambing season and when sheep are in livestock handling yards or feedlots. Shelter could range from simple shelterbelts and open-sided, wind protected sheds in exposed paddocks, to yard and feedlot covers.
It is important to meet the basic requirements including food, water and shelter as set out in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
Read on to learn more about providing shade and shelter for your sheep.
Things to remember when providing shade and shelter for sheep
- Wind flow is important in extreme heat as it allows sheep to be kept cool but protected from the sun.
- Ideally, there should be adequate room for all sheep to lie down to prevent crowding and smothering and in hot conditions, helping them cool down.
- Ensure there is adequate water provision close to the shelter to meet the demand.
- Carefully plan positioning of water to prevent crowding. Ideally, sheep should be sheltered in small mobs to limit grouping together around the shelter or water.
- Protect sheep in holding yards with the use of natural and artificial shade, in particular, young sheep left in yards for extended periods of time.
- Ensure sheep in feedlots have shade and shelter that increases airflow and combats high temperatures and humidity levels.
- Prioritise, giving shelter to the most vulnerable.
- Be aware of thermoneutral zones (equilibrium point between heat production and heat loss) of sheep. This is approximately 21 – 31°C.
What are the benefits of yard shelters and feedlot covers?
- Protects your livestock and maximises animal comfort.
- Prevents further costs and resources being needed to remedy the impact of extreme weather conditions.
- Increases working flexibility, you can now work in the yards whatever the weather conditions.
- Shearers are not held up by inclement weather, increasing efficiency and helping deadlines to be met.