Summer Heat Stress Campaigns
Last weekend, Victorians were urged to never leave kids in hot cars and to prepare for heatwaves this summer by the Minister for Health Martin Foley MP. He joined paramedics to launch the Never Leave Kids in Cars and Survive the Heat campaigns, which warn parents about the dangers of leaving their children in the car.
Mr Foley wants people to recognise the signs of heatstroke which is a serious illness and requires immediate medical attention. Extreme heat kills more Victorians than any natural disaster.
Melbourne Sheep Save has also recently launched its Summer Heat Stress campaign #ExtremeHeatIsADeathSentenceForSheep with a petition to the City of Greater Bendigo Council. We are asking that appropriate shelter be provided over the selling and holding yards at the Bendigo Livestock Exchange. https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bendigo-livestock-exchange-shelter
Photo Credit: Gary Hall
Agriculture Victoria’s guidelines for shelter
Melbourne Sheep Save wants the Minister for Health and the newly appointed Victorian Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas MP to change the following Agriculture Victoria shelter guidelines from voluntary to mandatory:
- Sheep should be provided with shelter in times of above or below average temperatures. This can minimise the impact of climatic extremes and prevent suffering or possibly death.
- The amount of shelter provided should be sufficient for all animals to access it at the same time, and stocking rates may need to be adjusted to allow for this. This will prevent overcrowding around areas of shade or water.
- The best type of shelter during extreme heat protects animals from the sun and allows for the cooling effect of the wind. Some options for shelter in hot weather are:
a)constructed shelters using materials such as shade cloth, corrugated iron or timber
b)trees with large canopies — planted individually in fields
c) naturally undulating paddocks and gullies
d) shelterbelts — thick hedges of trees
Calling for help in extreme heat
If people experience symptoms such as an extremely high temperature, flushed dry skin, a rapid pulse, headache and disorientation, they should call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
When sheep are exposed to extremely high temperature they will experience dehydration that will lead to organ failure, but sadly there is no emergency number for sheep to call to seek help. What are sheep to do if they suffer signs of heat stress? Who do they call for urgent assistant? Who is there to help them cope with heat pain?
Surviving extreme heat
For people to survive the heat:
- Drink plenty of water, stay cool and seek out air-conditioned buildings
- Plan ahead and schedule activities in the coolest part of the day
- If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and avoid exercising in the heat
- Check-in on others – look after those most at risk in the heat
For sheep to survive the heat:
1.They can drink water if they have access to it that is, but they cannot stay cool on extremely hot days when denied adequate shelter and there is no law forcing people to provide them with shelter. Recommended shade and shelter guidelines must be made a mandatory requirement under law and failure to provide it must be prosecutable under the Act.
2. It is suggested transporting sheep at the hottest time of the day be avoided, but sheep are at the mercy of those who care for them, they have no say in when they should be transported and there are no laws stopping people from transporting sheep in the full heat of the day to the likes of saleyards. Confining sheep to holding pens, and in the Bendigo Livestock Exchanges case to selling pens, with no shelter from the stifling heat is a harsh reality for sheep.
3. They must avoid exercising in the heat. When sheep are being herded by dogs on and off transport trucks and while at saleyards in the heat of the day they cannot avoid exercise.
4. Sheep cannot check in on each other and look after those most at risk in the heat, it is our responsibility and duty of care to ensure adequate shelter is provided to them.
All animals need appropriate shelter
Melbourne Sheep Save is calling on the Victorian Government to mandate appropriate shelter for all animals within the animal agricultural industry under law so that they don’t suffer or die from heat related illness.
“All Victorians should follow our simple steps to survive the heat this summer – drink water, stay cool, plan ahead and check on those at risk” – Minister for Health Martin Foley
“Sheep should be given the same rights as humans and companion animals to survive the heat this summer. They must be provided with appropriate shelter on farms, at saleyards and at feedlots.” – Melbourne Sheep Save