Friday, August 03, 2001

Heat adds stress for fair critters

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Rabbits were panting. Hogs were losing their balance. And goats, cattle and sheep were drinking large amounts of water at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Carthage.

        Close to 1,000 animals coped with Thursday's excessive heat and humidity on the second day of the annual county fair.

        Fans blew. Animals were hosed down constantly. A turkey had perished Wednesday because of the heat, humidity and stress.

[photo] Andy, a 10-month-old steer, gets a refreshing hose-down Thursday from his owner, Alison Grogan, 14, of Price Hill at the livestock exhibition at the Hamilton County Fair in Carthage.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        “This is an unusual year with this amount of heat,” veterinarian Mike Frederick said. “They're really doing pretty well for the extreme conditions that we've had. We're doing our very best to move air through the barns.”

        Thursday marked another “heat alert” day for the region. It was the fourth for the year, and indicated that a combination of heat and humidity had surpassed 95 degrees. Thursday's heat index surpassed that mark by 2 degrees. Today's index should be 87 to 90 degrees.

        While farm animals and their owners are accustomed to the elements, they have been challenged by the double-whammy heat-humidity combination.

        “She kind of stomps a lot in the heat. She doesn't want to move,” said Jenna Simandl, 9, of Camp Denison, of her 8-month-old feeder calf Bull's Eye Bailey. She exercised the animal in Thursday morning's heat. She expected to show him that evening, but was worried that he would suffer from the heat stress that her family's rabbits and hogs have.

        Jenna's rabbits began molting — or losing hair — after they arrived at the fairgrounds Tuesday night. Hogs don't sweat, and her brother's 8-month-old hog, Psycho Pig, had purple ears because of Wednesday's heat. On Thursday, Jenna's parents were spraying their three hogs with a mist bottle every hour.

        “We're on constant watch with them now,” said Jenna's mother, Shelly Simandl.

        In the Junior Farmboard area, Andrew Burger, 16, of Colerain Township, tried feeding a 4-day-old calf with a large milk bottle. The calf was sheltered from the morning heat by a tarp and a fan blowing on her.

        “Extension cords and fans. Everybody's dragging them in,” said Pat Ekardt, a fair organizer who noted that this year's heat and humidity is the worst he's experienced in five years.

        “For some reason, it seems hotter,” he said. “Maybe it's because there's been no rain. Rain is bad for the fair, but it would at least cool things down. You have to take the bad with the good.”

        Todd Manser of the county's SPCA said fair participants seem to be doing as much as they can to protect their animals.

        “Just keeping the air moving and providing plenty of water” is important, he said. Fairgrounds are “typical of what you would find in a barnyard. (But) a pig doesn't have a wallow that they can get in and get covered in mud.”


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