Heat stress can greatly change your poultry’s health. Here are some tips on how to prevent heat stress during the summer.
- Digestion generates body heat, so feed poultry during the coolest times of the day.
- Severe heat stress can affect egg quality, egg size and hatchability. It can also increase the rate of mortality.
- Heat-stressed birds consume less feed, so meat-type chickens (i.e., broilers) will grow more slowly and hens will produce fewer eggs—even more reasons to add adequate shade and ventilation.
- Birds don’t have sweat glands, so they cool themselves by panting. Panting can be a sign of heat stress, and the act of panting can alter a bird’s electrolyte balance. If you suspect heat stress, talk to your veterinarian about adding electrolytes to your birds’ water.
- One of the best ways to prevent heat stress is to prevent overcrowding. To instantly reduce the heat, reduce the number of birds in the house.
- Avoid unnecessary activity. Summer heat places enough stress on birds. Take care not to disturb them during the hottest time of day.
- Signs of an unhealthy chicken: - less active than the rest of the flock
- the comb is pale and limp (the comb is a good barometer of health)
- breast is concave and the keel bone becomes prominent
- liquid diarrhea (versus a semisolid green and white splotch, which is normal)
- unusual breathing or wheezing (some panting is normal in hot weather, but not to excess)
- If one of your chickens exhibits any of these symptoms this summer, talk to your veterinarian.
Source material for this blog article was provided by Purina Mills, Inc. © 2007