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
- Make sure birds have cool, clean water.
- 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.
- 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.
- Leave birds alone during the hottest parts of the day.
- Make sure birds have plenty of space. Reduce body heat by putting fewer birds in each house.
- 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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