Heat stress occurs in most commercial livestock and poultry operations in Canada during the summer months, when temperature and humidity rise. If your birds are experiencing heat stress, it can cause a drop in growth rate, production and can lead to increased mortality rates.
Factors that influence heat stress in poultry:
- Feather cover
- Acclimation to heat
- Temperature of the drinking water
- Access to drinker lines
- Ventilation – oxygen and carbon dioxide levels
Birds that are older and heavier are more susceptible to heat stress.
Telltale signs of heat stress in your birds
|Chickens release heat by panting. You will want to look for open beaks and rapid breathing.|
|Birds that outstretch their wings and ruffle their feathers may also be experiencing heat stress.The ruffling of feathers allows cool air to get under the feathers and on to the skin, which helps cool the bird’s body temperature.|
Decreased feed intake but increased water intake
|When birds drink more, they have loose, almost watery looking manure. This leads to a loss of electrolytes and possibly malnutrition. Birds will become more sluggish and less active, with decreases in production and growth.|
Finding cool spots
|Another sign of heat stress is birds try to get in contact with cool surfaces – migrating to the walls or digging nests down on the floor|
The negative impacts of heat stress are usually worse when hot weather comes in quickly and the birds have not had time to acclimatize to the heat.