Fair animals have a tough time keeping cool

A rabbit huddles close to a frozen water bottle at the Douglas County Fair on Tuesday, trying to keep cool in temperatures that topped 100 degrees.

Taylor Stanley,16, of the Vinland Valley 4-H club, sprays her hog with some cool water as temperatures hit 101 at the Douglas County Fair.

This year’s Douglas County Fair has already seen the hottest day of the summer, with temperatures soaring to over 100 degrees on Monday. With weather like that, fair-goers will need to stay hydrated, find a nice shady spot, and … maybe get a hose-down? And it’s not just the two-legged visitors who need to stay cool.

The animals are feeling the heat as well.

Chris Berg, Lawrence, has been with the Lonestar 4-H club for 11 years, and has bovine, swine and sheep to maintain. For him, it’s been a challenge keeping up with all three.

“Running between the barns, trying to keep them all cool, especially the pigs, since they’re not able to sweat they need to be hosed down more,” Berg said.

Pigs have been struggling with the heat the most. Tyler Kappelle, Baldwin City, lost one of his pigs before even arriving at the fair. Another 4-Her had one go down Monday in front of the swine barn, and others have had close calls.

“You can tell when they’re hot if you feel their ears,” said Taylor Stanley, Baldwin City, who is a member of the Vinland Valley 4-H.

“If they’re really smokin’ hot, you need to get them cooled down really fast so they don’t die.”

Stanley said it recently took five people to revive a pig by rubbing it down with cool rags and spraying down hot spots behind its ears and under its leg. Finally, a shot from the vet got it back on its feet.

Combining a new environment with the heat can also cause challenges. Troy Stanley, Baldwin City, said pigs normally have a mud hole to lay in and keep cool. They are without that luxury at the fair, where they rely on fans blowing down on their mulch-filled pens and frequent trips to the wash rack. Berg said his steer wouldn’t drink on the first day there because of the stress that comes with moving to a new place.

“My steer isn’t really used to all of this commotion. He actually drank two buckets this morning,” Berg said.

Ethan Horne, Baldwin City, didn’t seem too concerned with this year’s heat. It’s always warm during the fair, right?

“Maybe a little more rinsing off to keep them cool and keeping them watered a little bit more. Otherwise, it’s about the same every year.”