Heat Hits Herds

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 10:59am

Farm animals are suffering through the brutal summer heat.

The extreme heat gripping much of the country is not just dangerous for people.

It can also be deadly for animals.

Ranchers are working overtime to keep their livestock healthy, and it can be costly.

"It has been worse than any other year," rancher Jana Thorton said. "The horses are suffering because of it."

"In these last few weeks, it is coming to a head, and more of these horses are having problems," says veterinarian Dr. John Bitter.

Bitter said the heat can cause horses to have intestinal problems such as colic or develop a condition that keeps their bodies from cooling down.

Thorton calls her horses her babies.

She's been working overtime to keep them healthy.

Thorton waters them down, keeps fresh water in the tanks, and feeds them extra minerals.

She even keeps misters and fans in the barn to cool the horses down.

The hardest part is keeping them fed because the pastures are too dry to graze.

"There's nothing; it's all burnt up," Thorton said. "We are having to feed them round bales of hay, which are very expensive."

The demand for hay has gone up, but so has the price.

It's stressing ranchers' bottom lines.

"It cuts it in half, easy," Thorton said.

"We see a lot of cattlemen selling their cattle right now in huge numbers only because they can't afford them, or if they can afford, don't have the resources to feed them," Bitter notes.

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