Keeping St. Joseph County 4H Fair animals cool with a heat index in the triple digits

ST. JOSEPH CO., Ind.,--Tuesday’s high temperatures are making it hard for animals at the St. Joseph County 4H Fair to cool down.
The St. Joseph County 4H Fair is a great time to spend some time with family, see some livestock and enjoy the rides and games. But with a heat index around 100 degrees, you’re going to want to cool off. Possibly with some ice cream.
I caught up with the Clay Fire Department, working an ice cream and grilled cheese stand, raising money for the 4H Fair, and asked firefighter, Jeromy Gerndt how he and the team are keeping cool today.
“We’re keeping cool back here by eating some more ice cream, drinking some water,” said Gerndt. “We’ve got some fans going. It’s still warm but we keep it cool.”
However, firefighters are used to hot environments, so Gerndt recommends that folks do their best to keep cool.
“Make sure that you find shade when you can drink plenty of water,” said Gerndt. “If you start getting overheated, make sure you find air conditioning.”
The St. Joseph County 4H Fair makes it easy to keep visitors cool on exceptionally hot days like today. Fair board president, Kristen Sikorski-Conklin described some of the precautions the fair is taking.
“We have some air-conditioned buildings that you can cool down in,” said Sikorski-Conklin. “We have a few misting stations. And we do have first aid with EMTs on site if they need any help with that. And we will make announcements periodically throughout the day just reminding people to drink their water and stay hydrated.”
While people can head to the AC and eat ice cream, it’s not just humans feeling the heat.
Fans are just one thing 4Hers do their best to keep their beloved animals healthy and protected says Evan Holmgren, beef superintendent St. Joseph County 4H.
“We keep them clean, keep them watered, keep the fans on them, they tend to do really, really well,” said Holmgren.
Holmgren has been in 4H since he was a kid, and has also continued to keep the tradition alive with his children, they show pigs and cattle. He says the animals are able to regulate their body temperatures, although pigs have minimal sweat glands, making it more difficult for them to cool down. At the fair, they’ve equipped the necessities to keep the pigs comfortable.
In Tuesday’s events, prized pigs were shown in the swine show. But did you know that pigs feel the effect of heat the most out of the animals at the fair?
Despite having the least amount of hair, pigs feel the heat more than most other animals because they don’t have many sweat glands to cool them off and regulate their body temperature.
However, pigs are smart animals that will find shade and cool themselves off—and are able to do so with the help of their human friends at the fair. When a pig or cow needs cooled down, they may show some signs of stress from the heat, so if you’re visiting the fair, Holmgren recommends to give that hot animal some space.
“If they’re getting stressed a little bit, their heads will be down a little bit, their ears will be droopy. Most of the time the people that work with their calves are going to know pretty quick what’s going on. They’ll see the signs of it and know what they’ve got to do pretty quick. Get water in them, try not to disturb them a whole lot, and if we have to will get them in the wash rack, and run water over them and that will help cool them as well.”
The St. Joseph County 4H Fair will continue through Saturday, July 9. Find more information on the fair and each day’s events here.

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