Heat Stress Management in Backyard Chickens
We have Rebecca from Langley shared her gorgeous chicken coop made by her husband over the COVID-19 stay-at-home period. Rebecca's coop set a great example of a good coop design to prepare for the hot summer days. Firstly, her coop is build partially under the shaded area and her outdoor pen is very well-ventilated. Having a well-ventilated enclosure is not only important to help maintain lower temperature, but also keep adequate air flow to lower relative humidity and lower ammonia and toxic gases build up.
Heat stress in chickens can cause death in serious cases and can have so many negative impacts on bird's health and performance. Reducing egg production and egg quality, impairing the immune system, increasing the likelihood of intestinal diseases are some of the common consequences.
With summer arriving, it is important to get prepared for the warm days.
● Avoid over-crowding. Allow enough space for birds to spread out and minimize stress.
● The coop should be well-ventilated. If chickens are let outside, please ensure that they have shaded areas to hide from direct sunlight.
● Provide fresh and clean water. Waterer should be refreshed at least once a day. It is important to ensure that the inner surfaces of the waterer are cleaned thoroughly to minimize biofilm build-up.
● If a water line system is used, it is helpful to cool the drinking water by flushing the lines multiple times during the warm hours. Water flow should be monitored regularly. Mineral build-up can be a problem depends on the water source.
● Add multivitamin/electrolyte in the drinking water to help replenish mineral and electrolyte loss.
● Vitamin D3, Calcium and Phosphorus through the drinking water can help maintain good shell quality.
● Carefully select feeding times. Feeding during the coolest times of the day can help minimize heat stress.
Recognize clinical signs of heat stress. The most obvious clinical signs of heat stress is open-mouth breathing or 'panting'. Panting occurs because birds, unlike humans, do not have sweat glands that cool their skin. Instead, birds need to cool themselves by evaporation from their throat and respiratory system. Unfortunately, panting takes significant energy for birds, which, in turn, generates more heat and physiological stress. Other signs of heat stress includes: spreading/lifting wings away from body, lethargy, diarrhea, pale combs & wattles, increase water consumption.
Thank you Rebecca from Langley for sharing her coop design with us!