A look at heat-tolerant livestock breeds
North America spans an incredibly diverse range of climates, with farms and ranches spreading literally coast to coast and border to border. And when discussing livestock breeds for those properties, people tend to talk a lot about cold-hardy breeds—but what about animals that can thrive in warmer climates?
Since we’re in the thick of summer’s heat right now, let’s highlight some heat-tolerant livestock breeds for warm-climate acreages, and while we’re at it, we’ll also look at some dog breeds that don’t mind warm temperatures.
‘Heat tolerant’ or not, be sure to provide all your outside animals with plenty of clean, fresh drinking water and opportunity for cooling shade
Sheep breeds exhibit a variety of wool types, including fine, medium, and long. Many fine wool breeds descend at least in part from the Spanish-bred Merino sheep, and can be quite suitable for warm locations.
Hair sheep (often native to Africa or the West Indies) are also heat-tolerant breeds. Here are some breeds to consider:
- St. Croix
- American Blackbelly
Like sheep, goats with fine fiber should be more comfortable in warm temperatures, and small goat breeds also tend to thrive in the heat a bit better than large goats. If you’re looking for heat-tolerant goat breeds, here are a few to research further:
- Nigerian Dwarf
As you might suspect, chicken breeds that originated in warm-weather areas tend to be happy in the heat. But in any case, some heat-hardy chickens include:
- Plymouth Rock
- White Leghorn
- Rhode Island Red
Of course, our list wouldn’t be complete without a few heat-tolerant beef and dairy cattle breeds:
- Brangus (an Angus/Brahman cross)
- Texas Longhorn
As a rule, rabbits don’t do enjoy hot weather—in fact, the opposite is true. However, if you’re looking for breeds that might be more well-suited to warmer climates, you could consider:
- New Zealand
- Altex (not yet recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association)
Generally, dog breeds that are happiest in the heat have ears that stand up, shorter coats, and longer noses. Luckily, there is no shortage of such breeds! Here are some dogs that usually don’t mind warm weather and can also be useful around the farm:
- Australian Cattle Dog – This is an excellent herding dog that absolutely looks like it should live on a ranch (and many do!).
- Border Collie – They’re not the all-stars of hot weather tolerance, but Border Collies do have a double coat that helps insulate them from the heat to some extent. And for some types of farm work, Border Collies almost can’t be beat.
- Doberman – Dobermans look tough, which can make them good watch dogs for your property, but at the same time, they’re pretty laid back and almost goofy with their human family.
- German Shorthaired Pointer – A great choice if you enjoy outdoor sporting activities like bird hunting.
- Whippet – Okay, full transparency here: Whippets do almost nothing notable around the farm except maybe bark at a deer or squirrel. But they’re so personable and such enjoyable dogs, and they’re so good at power-napping that they just might help you learn to relax a bit from the farm work, settle on the sofa, and doze on the hot days, just like they do.
But if you do decide to doze on the hot days, at least you can ponder the possibilities of new heat-tolerant breeds to add to your farm! Happy daydreaming!
Get hot weather tips here
More tips for hot weather animal care
About the author
Samantha Johnson is a writer, farm girl, and the author of more than a dozen books on rural living. She lives on a farm in northern Wisconsin with a colorful herd of Welsh Mountain Ponies, a bossy Welsh Corgi, and a wide assortment of tomato plants. View her portfolio at samanthajohnson.contently.com