Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Nevaeh who is aged 6.
The main way that our animals keep cool when it’s hot is to seek out shade, so it’s important for us to make sure that there are shady areas available in each animal enclosure on the farm. On a sunny day you might notice the sheep and goats sticking close to the walls of their wooden shelters, which provide shade, or the rabbits hiding in the patch of shade directly underneath their hutches.
When humans get hot, we cool down by sweating. The sweat we produce is mostly water and when the water evaporates from the surface of our skin, we can lose some heat energy and cool down. Some animals, like horses, also produce sweat to help them keep cool when it’s hot.
Pigs, however, don’t sweat. On a hot sunny day, they like to roll in mud to keep themselves cool instead. This works in a similar way because as the water in the mud evaporates, the pigs can lose some heat energy and cool down. The mud can also act as a protective layer against the UV rays from the sun, preventing pigs from getting sunburnt, and it can help to remove some parasites.
Chickens also don’t sweat and are much better at coping with cold weather than hot weather. They can lose some heat energy through their comb and wattle (that’s the strange wobbly bits you find on their heads and on their necks) as well as through their feet. You might also see them panting on a very hot day. When they pant, they push hot air out of their bodies and draw in cooler air from the outside.
Another creature which has evolved to cope better with cold than heat is the rabbit, with its wonderful furry coat. As we’ve already mentioned, our rabbits seek out shade when the sun comes out. They can lose some heat through the blood vessels in their ears as these are not covered in fur.
The key to keeping all of our farm animals cool on a hot summer’s day is providing them with shade and water so that they can stay hydrated. We try to do the same for the humans on the farm too!