A chicken or a flock of chickens with heat stress and exhaustion can be deadly if it's not controlled or elimintaed in time. We're in the heat of summer now. Urban and backyard chicken owners need to be watching their flocks for signs of heat stress and must learn how to control it.
What is Heat Stress?
What is heat stress in poultry? Heat stress is a condition experienced by chickens and other poultry birds(Turkeys,ducks etc) caused by high temperatures, especially when combined with high relative humidity and low air speed majorly caused by overcrowding or the heat from the sun. A few common cause factors may include genetics, feather cover, acclimation to heat, drinking water temperature, and availability. Older birds, heavy breeds, and broilers are typically more susceptible to heat stress.
Severe heat stress can cause drops in poultry production efficiency which will in turn give rise to increased mortality rates in your flock. You may notice stunted growth or slow growth rates, low egg production, and minimal chick hatching rates. Heat stress can also be a major cause a change in egg quality. You may notice smaller eggs,soft or thinner shells and overall poor internal egg quality.
Signs of Heat Stress in Chickens
If you notice any of the following symptoms in your chickens or poultry bird they could be exhibiting signs of dehydration, heat stress or exhaustion from heat:
Forced breathing and panting
Pale looking combs/wattles
Frequent attempts to get air by Lifting wings away from body
Ways to Combat Heat Stress in Chickens
First and foremost, make sure your flock has access to clean, good,cool water at all times! This is super important!
Supplement lost electrolytes: It is always a good idea to keep emergency medical supplies on hand for your bird or flock. Keeping electrolytes in stock can help you get through the hot summer months.Heat stress can deplete the chicken's body of electrolytes. A water-soluble electrolyte powder can be used during times of heat stress to help replenish electrolytes that have been lost. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the package when using electrolytes. Electrolytes also improves your bird's water intake, which is definitely a good thing when trying to help them cool off.Electrolyte Tip: When you mix up an electrolyte solution, try freezing it in ice cube trays. You can add the cubes to your flock's drinking water as needed as an additional way to cool them down.
Always Provide protection from the sun during the summer through the use of Shade, misters, and even wading poolscan provide the relief your birds need from the heat.
Never overcrowd your flock. Your poultry needs space to move away from the body heat of other birds.
Feed during the cooler times of the day. Digestion generates heat and birds will be less likely to eat during the hotter parts of the day.
Keep your birds calm to avoid stress. Never allow children, dogs or other pets chase or disturb your flock.Chickens are just like humans when they are not comfortable, they get stressed; and when they get stressed they dont perform as well as you want them to. Healthier birds are more susceptible to stress. It is in your interest to make sure they are not stressed.
Electrolytes for Chickens with Heat Stress
You cannot control the weather, but there are ways to help prevent heat stress in your flock. That is why I have written this post titled "How to deal with heat stroke in Poultry"