Farmers urged to offer stock shelter from sun
The heat has been no fun for the woolly jumper and leather jacket brigade. Sheep and cattle have been suffering in the heat and local animal welfare advocates are involved in an ongoing campaign to convince farmers to provide shade for their stock.
Concerns for the welfare of farm animals exposed in shadeless paddocks to the relentless heat have seen Rhonda Findlay and Jenny Doyle writing letters to Federated Farmers offices and distributing notices to farmers asking that more shade and shelter be provided for farm animals.
The notice reads: ‘‘These animals have little shade/shelter. Please consider putting up immediate short term shade/ shelter such as scrap iron, wood, shadecloth etc. on fence corners, and consider planting somes trees/flax’’.
Rhonda says they’ve seen animals standing in open paddocks panting, having nowhere to find relief from the sun, and with temperatures into the high 20s and low 30s.
‘‘They cluster around what- ever casts a shadow – even the shadows of fence battens.’’
She begs farmers to have some consideration for the animals. ‘‘Solutions don’t have to be expensive and can be put up fairly quickly. Hang some old carpet or cardboard on the fences.’’
The cardboard solution she says can last for two years before needing to be replaced.
Modern farming practices seem to encourage wide open shelter-free spaces for maximum pasture growth, but animals suffering heat stress don’t graze. ‘‘ They come out from whatever shade they can find about four or four-thirty in the afternoon when the heat has passed.’’
Research shows cows with access to shade produce 3 per cent more milk.
The pair are equally concerned about sheep penned for hours in the sun without shelter at the Feilding saleyards.
Rhonda says animal welfare laws lack teeth, and seem to be made up of suggested best practice rather than a binding code of conduct.
Sheep cluster into the only shady corner of their paddock to find some relief from the heat.