How to reduce heat stress on poultry flocks

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pastured poultry chickens
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

Just as humans can become victims of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in hot summer weather, so can livestock. Poultry flocks are no exception.

Signs of heat stress in poultry

The most obvious sign of heat stress in poultry is panting, according to Louisiana State University Ag Center. For older birds, the risk of heat stress is greater because as birds get larger, they also become more insulated with their feathers.

Related: Tips for keeping cows cool in summer

University of Minnesota Extension Service explains that the thermoneutral zone for poultry is 60-75 degrees F. When temperatures rise to 85 degrees F, the upper critical temperature, they won’t grow as quickly and they won’t eat as much. In turn, Louisiana State University Ag Center says that birds will lay fewer eggs and hatchability, egg shell quality, internal egg quality and egg size may all decrease. When the temperature gets closer to 100 degrees F, the thermal maximum temperature, the birds’ core body temperature will increase unless relief is provided.

How to reduce heat stress in poultry

Louisiana State University Ag Center and University of Minnesota Extension Service provide the following tips for reducing heat stress on poultry flocks:

  1. Make sure birds have cool, clean water.
  2. Add electrolytes to water. Electrolytes will help to balance the electrolytes in birds, plus birds will drink more water. Grit has directions for making a homemade electrolyte solution for chickens. You can also add vitamins A, B complex, D and E to supplement water for broilers and vitamin C for breeding poultry.
  3. Feed birds during cooler parts of the day, since birds produce heat while they digest. For broilers and turkeys, remove feed 6 hours before the afternoon peak temperature. Once the peak temperature has passed, feed can be reintroduced.
  4. Leave birds alone during the hottest parts of the day.
  5. Make sure birds have plenty of space. Reduce body heat by putting fewer birds in each house.
  6. Make sure birds’ environments are well-ventilated and comfortable. A misting/fogging system may be used to help birds cool down.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, first of all…give electrolytes tru their drinking water, if you are mixing your own feeds..give high oil amount instead of starch(corn, wheat, etc). Since oil is easier to digest than starches. Increase the amount of vitamins (vitamin C as the most impirtant – give this tru water) , if they are confined – you can put some cooling materials like leaves above their roof or whatever that can serve as an insulator to reduce heat.
    I manage a breeder farm here in the philippines and we also practice putting an ice in their drinking water to lower down their body temp as they drink. And also to encourage them to drink. We also put electric fans to make the air move. Size of fan will depend on the size of building-bigger building ofcourse a bigger fan.
    Aside from electrolytes give the chickens a Betaine (you can buy this in a veterinary suppliers, to help them combat stress brought by heat.

  2. Hi I’m from Nigeria Can the use of orange peel (rind) help in reducing heat stress,and how should it be administered ?

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