The heat arrived with the summer solstice this year - we reached 99 degrees here at home (and we broke 100 degrees where the sheep are in Rocklin). Like any weather, the heat presents certain challenges to us as ranchers.
Our animals consume much more water when it's this hot. The sheep and goats need 1-2 gallons of water each in this type of weather, which means we're hauling more water to places like Sierra College and Whitney Oaks. They'll also consume less forage during the hot part of the day - we try to get them up and eating early in the morning and in the cool of the evening. They tend to loaf in the shade during the middle of the day. And speaking of shade, we try to set up our paddocks so that there's plenty of shade.
We also take special care of our dogs in this type of weather. The guard dogs, like the sheep, need plenty of water. The border collies can become overheated very quickly while working - we make sure they have water to drink and to swim in. We also clip our longer-haired border collies, which helps them stay cooler. When I have dogs with me in a vehicle, I don't leave them in the truck - they get to go with me on a leash most places. Finally, we try to manage our stock moves to ensure that the sheep and the dogs are moving (exercising) during the cooler part of the day.
We're supposed to have one more hot day this week, and then drop back into the 80's and 70's - I'm fine with that! I prefer cold weather to hot - I can always put on more clothing, but there's only so much I can take off (at least in public)!
If you've read my blog previously, you probably know that we try to use nonlethal livestock protection tools in our sheep operation. You...
Ranchers, myself included, are conservative by nature. I don't mean politically (although this is also true in many cases). Many of...
My sheep shearer, Derrick Adamache, tells a story about the value of wool 100 years ago. Relatively speaking, wool was worth much more in ...