Protecting your flock from heatstroke

07 January 2024

Heatstress, also known as hyperthermia, is a serious condition that can affect chickens under extreme heat conditions. It occurs when the body's internal temperature rises to dangerously high levels, causing the body's cooling mechanisms to become overwhelmed.

Symptoms of Heatstress

Signs of heatstress in chickens can include:

  • Panting or open-mouthed breathing
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Red or pale comb and wattles
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • In severe cases, death

How to prevent Heatstress

To prevent heatstroke in your chickens, follow these important guidelines:

  • Provide adequate shade: Ensure your chickens have access to plenty of shade throughout the day, especially during the hottest hours. Shade structures, such as trees or natural shade cloths, can provide much-needed respite from the sun.
  • Maintain ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial for regulating air circulation and removing excess heat from the poultry house. Ensure proper airflow and avoid overcrowding to prevent the buildup of heat and humidity.
  • Adjust watering schedules: Provide fresh, clean water at all times, and increase water intake during hot weather. Consider using electrolyte-rich water or providing cool water sources to help chickens stay hydrated.
  • Monitor temperature: Regularly monitor the temperature inside the poultry house to ensure it remains within the recommended range of 18-25°C (64-77°F).
  • Manage ventilation during hot weather: During the hottest hours of the day, reduce ventilation to prevent the influx of hot air. However, increase ventilation in the early morning and evening to allow for better cooling.
  • Provide cool showers: Consider providing misting or sprinkler systems to cool down your chickens during extreme heat. This can be particularly beneficial for laying hens, who are more susceptible to heatstroke.
  • Reduce stocking density: Overcrowding can exacerbate heatstroke risk. Maintain proper stocking density to ensure adequate air circulation and space for heat dispersion.
  • Identify and remove heat-stressed chickens: Regularly check your flock for signs of heatstroke. If you identify any affected chickens, remove them from the group and provide them with cool water and shade.

Emergency Measures

In case of heatstroke, follow these emergency measures:

  • Immediately move the affected chicken to a cool, shaded area.
  • Offer cool water or a cool bath to lower the chicken's body temperature.
  • Spray the chicken's body with cool water or wrap it in a cool, damp towel.
  • Monitor the chicken's breathing and heart rate closely.
  • If the chicken's condition does not improve, consult a veterinarian promptly.

Preventive Measures

By implementing these heatstroke prevention measures and staying vigilant, you can greatly reduce the risk of this serious condition among your chickens, ensuring their health and well-being, even under extreme heat conditions.