The Herald Bulletin

July 16, 2012

Struggling to find the cool at the fair

Different animals require different cooling techniques

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — As temperatures once again soared into the mid-90s on Monday, finding effective ways to keep animals and their humans cool became job one at the Madison County 4-H Fair.

Humans could find some relief in the air-conditioned main 4-H building, or standing under one of four misting fans installed at various locations at the fairgrounds.

But regular hosing, frozen water bottles and fans, lots of them, were the primary means of relief for animals.

Bryce Montgomery, 15, of Alexandria was busy cooling off two 360-pound hogs he calls Lunch and Dinner in an effort to keep them comfortable.

Hogs have no sweat glands, so in addition to getting hosed down four to five times a day, water is also used to dampen straw in their stalls and fans are used throughout the pens. Plus, when the weather gets really hot, most animals — wisely — naturally slow down.

Cows have sweat glands in the nose, said 13-year-old Blake Morehead, whose father, Jimmy, owns Morehead Cattle Farms in Alexandria. A steer and heifer entered in the cattle show appeared to be resting comfortably in the cattle barn early in the afternoon, but they also like getting hosed down.

“Once they know where they are going, they’re all in,” Jimmy Morehead said.

Keeping rabbits cool and comfy requires a few more resources in the form of frozen comfort.

In the wild, rabbits burrow in the cool ground. Above ground, however, the best cooling technique is frozen water bottles on which they can nestle next to or on, said Emilee Hollingsworth, who’s been raising rabbits for seven years.

The hottest place at the fair on Monday seemed to be under the tent where volunteers from the Christian Congregation Church were ladling steaming plates of chicken noodles over mashed potatoes as well as other fixings.

And back at the church, other volunteers were baking pies for delivery to the fair at intervals during the day.

All proceeds from the food sales go to four church ministries, said Jerry Young, senior pastor of the church.

“We’ve been doing this as a church function for over 60 years, and even in this tremendous heat they have such a great attitude,” Young said of the small army of church volunteers who work the fair each year.

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.