Farmer's Weekly

Keeping it cool: dealing with extreme temperatures

The South African Weather Service’s website states that if the maximum temperature in a particular area is expected to meet or exceed 5°C above the average maximum temperature of “the hottest month” for that area, and these conditions persist for three days or more, a heatwave may be declared. This summer, South Africa has already had heatwave conditions declared in various parts.

Prof Michiel Scholtz, a specialist researcher in applied animal breeding at the Agricultural Research Council’s Animal Production division and associate professor in animal breeding at the University of the Free State, says ambient temperature has a particularly significant impact on the productivity of ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats.


Dr Jan du Preez, a veterinary specialist for public health, explains that ruminants are homeothermic, which means that their bodies work constantly to maintain the stable core body temperature required for optimal health and productivity. When the ambient temperature exceeds the maximum upper limit of the animal’s thermoneutral zone, its body undergoes various adjustments to try to compensate

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