During extreme heat, it’s important to have a plan in place to keep livestock cool. This effective system works even if the power goes out!
How to Keep Livestock Cool in Extreme Heat
When I lived in Central Texas, afternoon temperatures might break 100 degrees for several days in a row. (Some years, that was actually more like several months in a row!)
Temperatures like that can wreak havoc on your chickens, rabbits, and other livestock.
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“Create Cool Shade With This Easy Plant”
“How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion—The #1 Threat to Summertime Gardeners”
(For example, it’s not unusual to hear that chickens stop laying when it’s really hot outside or, worse case scenario, die from heat exhaustion. And rabbits usually can’t breed in the heat.)
You may be able to go inside and enjoy the air conditioner when temperature skyrockets, but what about your animals? How can you keep livestock cool in extreme heat?
Keeping Livestock From Overheating
All livestock have limitations when it comes to how much heat they can withstand. So, it’s really helpful to have a simple way to keep livestock cool, comfortable, and healthy through the hot summer months.
The video below deals with rabbits, but you can really keep any livestock cool using this system.
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“Meat Rabbits: Raise Half Your Protein in 10 Minutes Per Day (VIDEO)”
“How to Dress for Working in the Heat”
Watch to see how we managed to keep mothers, babies, and even a sexually viable daddy rabbit all healthy and happy right through the middle of July!
As usual, this is all done very simply and easily—without any electricity. This is a must-see video for anyone living where it gets HOT:
Off-Grid A/C With Simple Misters
As you can see, other than making sure that water and shade are always available, the most important part of this system is misting.
I’m using a simple misting system with plastic tubing and fittings that I picked up from my local farm supply store to keep livestock cool. I’ve had moderate success using only gravity to pressurize the whole system.
Oh, and if you like that watering setup I use for my chickens, I show you exactly how to build it in my free e-Book, “Simple and Effective Watering Systems for Livestock.” In it, you’ll learn to create a high-volume, low-maintenance, simple watering system that you can build yourself using easy-to-find materials.
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“5 Excellent Reasons To Keep Backyard Chickens”
“Fresh Homegrown Okra—The Star of the Summer Garden”
“Choose the Perfect Chicken Coop: 4 Essential Considerations”
The system relies on the same concept as a flushing toilet and can be duplicated using your choice of containers and maintained with a handful of weeds (really!).
Access it for free in the TGN Dashboard. Simply create a free account. Then, once you’re logged in, click on “View My Dashboard” in the upper right-hand corner of the home page, and scroll down to the “My Library” section.
What Do You Think?
What are your best off-grid suggestions for operating a misting system and finding other ways to keep livestock cool in intense summer heat? Let us know in the comments section below!
This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on July 24, 2103.
Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens. Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.
Looking forward to this video, but for some reason, it does not work. It says it is private.
t works now. sorry
Cannot see video, when I click on it I get a message “this is a private video”. Some help here would be appreciated.
Did you mean for this video to be marked private?
Would love to see it.
Thanks for all you do here.
When I click the link for From 102 Misery To Enjoyable 85: Off Grid AC and Survival Cooling it says ‘This video if private’.
I get the email updates. Get one that talks about cooling. Open it, click the link, click on the video and voila “THIS VIDEO IS PRIVATE”. No instructions on what to do, where to go. I’m already signed up or I wouldn’t have gotten the email to begin with.
I’ve bought the video “Grow Your Own Groceries”.
How do you get to watch the video?
I know Marjory tries to put out useful information, but it’s a headache trying to get to it.
The video is in “private” mode; you have to make it public for others to view.
My water system is a well solar pumped to a cistern at the top of a 100 ft well. Get 45 psi at the house and garden. My question is what mister are you using? I could easily set up several for the chickens and myself. Thanks
I was using some off-the-shelf “Digg” misters. You have to reduce the pressure down to 15 p.s.i. or so, but that is a simple off-the-shelf product too. There is a large variety of choices in misters. Everything from ones that are meant for a pot and use only about 2 gallons/hour to just poking a hole in the tube (uses lots more water that way though).
Your chickens will thank you.
I am going to do a bunch of experiments with a variety of brands or other things. I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you Marjory for another great instructional and very helpful video! We live in the Sierra Foothills of California and it does get very hot here also. We have a small mister system setup and it does help lower the temps somewhat. Looking forward to more videos from you!
Also wanted to thank you again for the Grow Your Own Groceries and Dental vids! I even bought them for my son. These are FULL of awesome helpful hints for those of us wanting to either live off the grid or like me, just save a little money!
See you when you have another video!
Thank you so much for your support. I really, really appreciate it.
Had no problem opening or playing video through iPhone.
Hi Marjory / or some one.
We had a couple weeks when I think I’d join those chickens of yours.
Bare ground gets hot. More to the point of my comment.
Not sure why I needed to log in again but now I have… HOW do I put up a picture a avatar if you will ? Shannon.
PS : Is this a new URL ?
Well, uh, I don’t know how to uput up a picture avatar. Hmm, I’ll ask Justin who does my web stuff. The grow your own groceries.org is a new url. does that amke a difference?
Hi Margerie, Marguerite, Marjorie, Margory, Margot, Margo, Margret, Margaret, Margarett, Margretta, Margaretta,
We in the green house’s needed to soak our spray nozzles metal filters in a acid solution over night to clean them out. If you use them…
I have to wonder if a wide two foot trench couldn’t be dug with an wide excape. Then place a board over the top. I’m not sure if you have cool ground where you live. May-be a under ground house with solar lights to keep them laying.
I’m out of my realm here and I do complicate things due to my lack to common sense of my era.
Shannon, you defiantely have every possible spelling of my name written there.
For the record “Marjory”. My mom was also named Marjory.
Absolutely loved your video! Great idea.
Hmm… don’t know whether this would be viable in the arid Southwest where there’s not just extreme heat to battle, but also extreme evaporation. Water may be too precious to spritz around all day in a) a no-grid situation (you are having water hauled in by truck to your water tank) or b) a grid-down scenario (no power=no water- there are almost no private wells here!). Everybody here must be a water-miser to survive in off-grid.
Just curious Marjory: what part of Texas is that? It looks hot but you have so much green around you, not desert-y.
Hi Medea, ouch, yes, you are in the deep desert. The system I am looking to build would use about 55 gallons in a day. And that would be too precious in your area. The good thing about the really deep desert is that if you have enough shade then you can cool off.
I am outside of Austin. This year we got some -surprise! – little rains during June and July and the grasses and wildflowers will respond to almost any amount of rain here. In most years everything is dead brown.
Thanks for writing in.
Check out Gail’s Garden. He talks about using permaculture to make the desert grow and cool it down he gives an example of the home of a friend of his that he helped turn into an oasis through permaculture.
That should be Gaia, not Gail. I should’ve proffered before I posted. The name of the book is Gaia’s Garden.
Common sense water smart solution… Adobe/cob rabbit hutches and/or chicken coops. Adobe or cob is an extremely inexpensive material and is perfect for both hot summers and frigid cold winters (something you find in Texas as well as deserts). The mud sticks to chicken wire very nicely and when you are done and made it nice and thick (dont forget to have a beefy support structure as the frame), there are many finishes you can add to water/weather proof it.
If you have access to a back hoe, you can also trench/dig in a 4 inch landscape pipe and put a low voltage solar fan on one end and extract natural cooling or heating from the earth. Simply running air through the pipe takes it from hot to cool, the longer the run the better and it does the reverse in cold winters. Be sure to add drainage holes to allow water to drain at any low collection sports along the pipe (or perforated landscape pipe already has them built in). And the only water you used for this solution is the water you needed to mix the adobe/cob.
When it is all done, if you want misters in addition to this, then you just made a huge impact on the heat. But I would caution anyone against misting chickens as it can negate the pest ridding nature of the dust baths they are fond of.
Additionally you can use the Adobe/cob for any and all animals in your care, dog houses, goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, etc. Wood boards placed at animal level can protect the mud walls from any abuse from more spirited critters.
You can also apply all this to your greenhouse and if you add a shade fabric, you can turn it into a cool house in the summer and a hot house in the winter. That same pipe will naturally heat a greenhouse above frost temps in the winter just by the fact that the ground wants to stay around 50 degrees.
Great video….you have lots of great ideas! I would like to see a follow up video with some more information and details about your actual misters and placements, etc. Are they around the outside of the cages or do the animals get directly misted? Can they get out of the misting at night? Just some questions about your great idea!! Thanks for putting this information out to everyone!!
If the animal is caged, yes I make sure they can get out of the misters – don’t want them soaking wet. The free range critters; chickens, dogs, rabbits, guineas, cat, etc. do as they please.
I don’t run the misters at night. Only from abut 1pm to 6pm which is the hottest part of the day.
I am currently researching the exact sprayers to use, and the methods to get the pressure you need. Yes, I’ll post more! Be sure to subscribe to get the latest updates.
I clicked on video and it came right up – no problems at all..
I fixed it. Oops..
Great video. I am looking forward to your research; I appreciate your approach to different topics
The “heat wave” that we recently had in move–was in the high eighties to the high 90’s. In all honesty, the high 80’s can be very tolerable, but the temperatures felt even hotter due to the very high humidity. My laundry did not completely air dry. Dense tree cover kept our rabbits safe. Nevertheless, a non-grid mister sounds rather exciting! Loss of electric during a heat wave isn’t fun.
Great video Marjory.
Your cooling system seems as simple and as easy as can be done. I look forward to future videos on how it works long term, and any innovations you develop. I live in the Texas heat, also.
Please, more information on how you are able to free range your rabbits.Hope you will tell us a whole lot more about that. How/why did you decide to do it? It is just amazing that your doe kindled. Do the free range rabbits dig burrows? Have you had any predator problems, or do your dogs keep them at bay? I am really looking forward to learning how this effort turns out.
There have been articles about a misting system used on the ridge of a house, using a timer and periodically misting the roof to greatly reduce heat, lower air conditioning use and reduce electric bills. The water is caught with rain gutters, I believe, held and recirculated. That could be done on a rabbitry and the timer could be run on solar or some other alternate energy method. It’s a probably more costly and complicated than what you are doing, however, if someone already had a building available for this purpose, it might be fun to experiment.
I bought the FOOD PRODUCTION SYSTEMS for a Backyard or Small Farm video and cd. They are inspirational and a great introduction for people who are newcomers to all this.
Wishing you all success.
Yes, I’ll do a lot more about the free range rabbits in future posts. Hopefully it turns out to be very successful! LOL. I see wild cottontails around… why not create an environment for free range rabbits? We built up some places for them to live – brush piles. I have a few waterers out there for them (and everything else too of course), and I irrigate some small patches of areas to provide more food than the natural landscape can offer – especially in August.
Predation is a big issue. And the first predators were my own dogs. We had to have a few ‘conversations’ about that. I have the dogs to protect the free range chickens from predators as you know.
Anyway, yes, I’ll write, video, or podcast more in the future.
Good info, but would help to know what your humidity is. In areas with lots of humidity the misters will not work well.
Eric, the humidity here is fairly low.
You are correct that higher humidity is not nearly as effective. That is why I mentioned this is not the best solution for S. Florida for example.
loved this video. We live south east of Dallas…and Man! it does get hot here.
I liked the idea of having a misting system and I think the chickens and the dogs like it too.
We had a hose that had sprung a leak and so while watering the vegetables…the chickens took to the mist coming from the leaky hose.
A very beneficial thing to have…
and let me tell you. We’ve had a power outage or two this summer so far! And it was quite hot out there.
Keep the videos coming they are so great and informative. thank you. Pat
Used to have a rabbitry (200 does) located in the northeast corner of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. It gets HOT there, commonly much more than 102. There were roof misters, but on days when it really got hot, 110+, I filled a 5-gallon plastic bucket with water and walked the aisles among the rabbits. Any rabbit showing heat distress got dunked in the water, held there for a few seconds so water could penetrate the fur, then put back in their cage. (Do not get water in their ears, nose, mouth or eyes.) The rabbit would spend the next couple of hours grooming itself. In 15 years, no rabbit ever died from heat despite temps up to 120. Our rabbits bred year round, with an average of 6 litters per doe per year. After years of meticulous record keeping and adequate feed support, our stock could grow a 5 pound market rabbit in 6 weeks. Only the best of the best was saved as future breeding stock. We had the Californian breed and were paid a premium by Pel-Freeze (formerly El Monte Rabbit Company) for our fryer rabbits.
Wow, thank you for that tip on dunking the rabbits.
Did you do anything special to have the bucks be able to fertilize in the heat?
An alternate personal cooling strategy. There a myriad of outdoor products that are wicking outerwear. My strategy is to soak one of these shirts down and put it on. It is remarkably effective at keeping cool. When it starts to dry simply hose yourself down. Added advantages are that some versions have a high SPF factor and many are anti-microbial. I discovered this on kayaking expeditions and now use it when working in the heat. Stay cool!
Oh yes, that is a great tip. Without the special material, we often wear long sleeved cotton shirts (gotten from the ‘ section in a thrift shop) and soak it down and wear it until all the water evaporates, then soak it again. A quick strip down and jump into the kids pool also helps a lot.
About avoiding the need for cooling the livestock:
The lady at the Ajo (AZ) Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Betsy Wirt, recommended to seek out the very tough, traditional Middle Eastern chicken breeds that are naturally heat adapted because of their small size (e.g. the Egyptian breed “Fayoumis” she has at home in very hot Ajo), instead of the big “meaty” New England backyard breeds that people usually get from their regular farm store and that require substantial effort to keep them alive in a hot, dry climates (constant misting etc.).
Although a few hatcheries have Fayoumis, Betsy mentioned Ideal Hatchery in Texas and Privett in New Mexico for getting them in the Southwest. Fayoumis are astonishingly beautiful, said to be alert but docile, they march upright like roadrunners and they supposedly mature fastest of all breeds and they are good layers of medium size eggs.
More on the interesting history of “desert chickens”, beautiful pics of their desert origins and “fending for themselves” there:
Lakenvelders are -despite their Germanic sounding name- the descendents of another kind of desert chicken, originally coming from Tel-Megiddo in Palestine otherwise known as “Armageddon”
More on “weather-proof” chickens in general (cold/hot/wet conditions):
(e.g. HEAT-proof chickens are typically light-colored and weigh light, and they have big wattles and combs for heat dissipation)
Wow, thank you for that info.
what type of misters do you recommend? Do you have a place where you get them? I would love to see how you design the whole system? I have a rabbit hutch that is accessible to all my other animals and thought if I could get it set up there, I could establish a way to cover all my critters with one set up.
Yes, setting it up in one area that is big enough for all is the way to go. I mist the caged ones and have enough area around it all the free rangers come on by. So I’ll see the dogs, the cat, the chickens, the geese, the bunnies, frogs, squirrels, and almost everyone hanging out there. Even me too on just to get in on the party. It is kinda fun.
I’ve been using Digg brand – but only because that was the only brand in the Home Depot. I am looking into others We’ve used a lot of different ones over the years – misters, drippers, etc. Getting water distributed in a droughty area like this is a major challenge.
Great video. Can you tell me what solar powered pump you used? Also, where can I find some info on the Digg’s misters?
Thanks, and I look forward to the future videos.
I am still searching for a good solar pump. I am trying a couple of difeerent companies. I’ll keep you posted on that.
The Digg misters got from Home Depot.
I love your news letters and tips. You are an awesome lady. I was wondering what part of Texas you are in. I am in the DFW area, although lived in the Tyler, Athens, Jacksonville areas and raised milk goats and rabbits in the early 80’s. Sure wish I was back there now! I was even prepping then. Even if there was absolutely no reason to prep (lol), I would still be prepping. It is a wonderful, wholesome, stimulating way to live and oh so rewarding! Thanks again for all that you do!
Hi there are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new
to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own.
Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Yes I am using wordpress. Its easy to get started – and a never ending thing to maintain. but that is ture of all software in a rapidly changing world.
Marjory, I stand in awe of you. I “stumbled” over your website via an article with a link that led to another link that led to your website. And I am –so– glad my then idle browsing about led me to you. Cheers! All my best wishes and THANKS!!!
We have such problems with hard water that misters and even sprinklers will get clogged up quickly. I think it would be helpful to have a large bucket with vinegar or diluted muriatic acid to soak the misters to clean them regularly. After cleaning the misters, the leftover diluted acid could have more water added and used to water acid-loving plants like blueberries.
I had my well at the top of the property, pumped by hand into 2 50 gallon barrels connected together with a 6′ siphon top to top. 400′ of 1/2″ poly drip irrigation line ran from a hole on the bottom of 1 barrel, down the hill to the overhead misters and a $2 shutoff valve. I just poked needle holes in the tube whichever way I wanted them to shoot. Spent 2 Texas summers out there and while it was a challenge, the misters, or rather, micro streamers, made a wonderful difference. Also kept an Ozarka 3 gallon rectangular water dispenser with a fill 4×4 cutout at top back, hanging on a pulley. I’d aim the spout upward for a great shower… 2 showers per fill. LOVED that!
California drought – no water misting here!
This research has already been done and it is currently in use. Lookup Saudi misters and Saudi dairy barns. These barns have a misting system in a specially constructed dairy barn. These misting systems make it possible to keep dairy cows cool in desert conditions. Currently, there are a number of large dairy producers in Arizona using this technology with great success.
Thanks so much for this video. We’ve had 14 straight days over 100 and your misting program would do wonders here. Heading over to buy the Grow Your Own Groceries DVDs now. We’ve recently bought some rural land and I’m thinking knowledge now might keep me from accidentally making problems for myself later on.
I bought a 20′ patio misting system from Wallie world for under $20. It says it is chainable, but haven’t tried that. I also live in central Texas and got it for the “barn” cats and the pasture dogs, to stay cool in the afternoons on the patio. I can now sit out with them in these gawd awful summer afternoons of late. I was wondering about stringing some of them out into the yard, for the landlords’ chickens, ducks, guinea hens, free range rabbits, and peacocks to help them stay cool as well. I also have dwarf fruit trees and olive trees on the patio and this seems to be helping them as well get through the summer. I try to do as much of my outside work before noon, when it is really quite pleasant outside. I don’t do much after dark, as even with the emus, we still have a relatively minor rattlesnake problem. BTW – emus are very effective in killing rattlesnakes and guinea fowl are the best natural flea and tick “treatments” you could ever have. I also have wading pools for the ducks to swim in and all the critters to drink from and when the water gets dirty from the birds, I gather it in buckets and use it on my garden before putting fresh water in. I’m 69 and not in the greatest physical shape, so if I can do that (have very bad back and fused neck) anyone can.
Gday, Thanks so much for your video.I live in Australia, on a small permaculture farm.I do grow my own food and also have a variety of animals. I have a gravity fed watering system in the chicken coop. I was looking for ideas on how to keep my chickens and ducks cooler, this is great information for me. I grow my own wood supply and made my woodfire in the house and it runs on a 240v battery system.Next objective is an off the grid hot water service to wash and cook .There re so many awesome inventions out there and I am looking forward to hearing more from you.Thanks again, chez.
Wondering if something like this would help the rabbits if you lived in an area that had water restrictions? https://www.geek.com/tech/eco-cooler-air-conditioner-cools-a-home-without-using-electricity-1657343/
Especially if it was painted white to reflect sunlight.
Thanks for the video on the off grid AC, mistings system. I am curious if you have figured out how much water you use in a day with this system. It’s a novel idea as long as you can sustain the water useage off grid. Thanks again.
Small solar fan and pump for rabbits
Thanks for sharing!
We love you, Marjory!
Heidi and critters (incl. human ‘critters’)
Thank you Marjorie. Nice video. I have one rabbit and he’s always hot and panting in the summer. I would like to see more details on how you set up the misters and tubing. The misters look like regular drip sprayers but maybe they’re finer spray? How do you get water pumped up to a holding tank with a bicycle air pump? (mystified by that idea). Please share how to use a solar pump also.
Very interesting concept! My family raises rabbits in Oklahoma and we also have issues with heat. I am looking forward to seeing your conclusions on best way to mist the bunnies. We have great success freezing 2 liter pop and lay them in the cages, but are looking for something more passive. Icing the bunnies twice a day is a little too labor intensive.
High humidity negates the evaporative cooling effect – although the alpacas enjoy having their tummies sprayed.
I’m wondering if you considered a swamp cooler. They use considerably less water, no risk of soaking an animal, and have been used on barns and for livestock cooling for hundreds of years. Yes, you do need something to recirculate water from the base to the top of a wicking mesh, and something to drive a fan, but now days that’s a simple solar set up and doesn’t even need a battery because it’s rarely needed when the sun isn’t out. It’s also a viable solution for those in a desert/drought situation. There is also ground cooling where you can bury 4” to 6” irrigation drain pipe and put a cheap small fan at one end to drive air through it… Hot air goes in and cool air comes out (zero water needed). If you have a tractor you can also dig in some livestock pens (like a root cellar) or Adobe walls around a livestock pen can help as well. If misters are going to be used, at least consider the drips and try to use those to help a plant or move some potted herbs under the drips so it isn’t so wasteful.
Geothermal cooling. Have a tractor, even a mere 30hp one, then you can do geothermal cooling. 1-tractor + 1-bottom-plow = trench. Make trench about 70-feet. Next stick in 4-inch conduit pipe. At the far end, 1 elbow and a mushroom cover with screen mesh. At the animal coop site, an exit vent.
Note, the deeper you dig the trench, the best cooling in the summer temps will be had. In the winter the best warm temps you will have. Under the frost line or solar soil heat line, the ground sits around 45F to 55F. Sending hot air in a long thin wall pipe will cool the intake air and naturally deliver it to the outlet end with no fan!
Sure there are costs to this, but if you are smart, a single geothermal pipe line can run a mere $100. Better than a swamp cooler cost over time and replacement.
Ever go down into a cellar or a nice cool basement in the summer? That’s the temps you want to flow into the barn or animal cages.
The entrance to the pipe needs to be protected from rain and insects. Keeping it dry will eliminate any nasties inside the pipe.
On YT, there is a vid of the Nebraska citrus farm growing oranges as a local crop with this method all year long!
Simple geothermal air tubes are sooooo easy to do. It’s the liquid type being the hardest ones. But I’m not talking liquid pipes. 🙂
Mr. Wilson asks
I see a lot of talk about cooling animal pens with water and or underground pipe for heating and cooling… I’m here in south Texas were at my farm temperature readings it’s been 100* + on an off for the last 3 months. ( April May an June) so far an we aren’t even into the hot months yet… my ??? Is what about the snakes that like the same things an places… new to the site.. ty
Hi Mr. WIlson, welcome to The Grow Network. Yikes, as I write this I’m visitng my kids in Austin and yes, it’s hot. Like wow, so early and so hot. What is the rest of this summer going to be if it is starting out like this?
I very successfully kept those rabbits cool with misters. And since we were all under a big tree it seemed everyone else came to hang out in the cool shade too. The chickens, the dogs, etc. Me 🙂
Good day Marjory :
In one of ur videos u said u could use urine for fertilizer at a ratio of 10 to 1 ?? Which one is the 1 part??? The water or the urine… enjoy ur visit with your daughter.. P/S u said ur dad or ur grandpa lived south of San Antonio?? If u don’t mind me asking what town was it… the reason being that’s where I’m at an I’m alway looking for good advice for surviving this area… thanks again an b-safe going back home…🙂