Hubbard Life

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Chickens Are Cool! Help Them Stay That Way

Not sure about where you live but here it has been HOT!!  Not only with temperatures in the high 90’s but the winds have made it feel like you’re in a convection oven.  Heat exhaustion is something that all animals struggle with and our role as good stewards is to do what is needed to insure our animals are kept within a comfortable and safe temperature zone. Birds are unique in the way they control heat since they do not have sweat glands like us.

Chickens remove heat from the core of their body by exhaling warm, moist air from their lungs.  The lungs serve like a radiator with circulating body liquids collecting heat that is expelled with rapid breaths out of their mouth. Thus releasing a portion of their body heat while inhaling cool air. Bird lungs are actually quite different from the human respiratory organ. Air can travel through in a single direction without disturbing air already contained within the organ, which allows them to cool off quickly without sacrificing oxygen absorption. Some tropical bird species can also flex their throat or mouth to increase the surface area of artery-laden tissue, lowering their body temperature even more. Knowing this we need to provide them a source of air that is at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler than their body temperature.  The normal range of a chicken’s body temperature is 104 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit; almost 10 degrees warmer than our body temperature. With this in mind it is difficult for us to compare our comfort zone with theirs. So having a thermometer inside the chicken house and in a shaded area outside will help you know what you’re dealing with.

Poultry producers can take a number of measures to help their chickens survive the effects of heat stress. Here are some management tips:

  • Chickens need clean, cool, water at all times.
  • Chickens are less inclined to eat during the heat of the day.
    • Feed housed birds within an hour of sunrise or the coolest part of the day. This allows the digestion process which naturally produces heat to occur during the cooler part of the day.
    • Free ranging birds should be released shortly after sunrise.  Insure water locations are shaded. Keep the water cooler with continuous flow systems on the hottest days.
  • Chickens should be kept in well-ventilated areas with adequate air flow. Move heat away from them by placing circulation fans to blow with prevailing winds. Continue moving the air as temperatures drop through the day and into the night. An ongoing cooling breeze makes a big difference in how chickens manage the heat.
  • When ambient temperatures exceed 100 degrees use misters or foggers inside the chicken house or outside in shaded areas. Water on the chickens' bodies helps to cool them.
  • Housed chickens need more room during periods of excessive heat; avoid overcrowding. It reduces body heat, as well as the corresponding amount of heat the ventilation system must move out of the poultry house.
  • Range chickens need shady areas with water.
  • During the heat of the day, don't disturb the birds. Let them rest.
  • Regularly remove any accumulated litter from the chicken house, as decomposition produces heat. Removal also keeps pests to a minimum.
  • Insulated poultry houses are easier to cool as radiant heat is minimized.
  • Keep areas around the chicken house free of tall grass and weeds which restrict air flow.  Low cut grass is best as it helps to absorb the sun and heat while bare ground can reflect heat into the house.

Your local Hubbard Life dealer can help with accessories for keeping your chickens cool and safe this summer and provide you with the best poultry feeds for your flock

Posted on 8/10/2016 by Dr. Dave Whittington  |   Category: Poultry

Comments

I found this article very useful with my pet chickens....learned things I had no idea about. Thanx

Posted By Margie Leap on 8/11/2016 9:02:09 PM

Hi Margie! Thanks so much for stopping by our blog and leaving feedback. So glad you found this article useful. Be sure to check back often for more blog posts!

Posted By The Hubbard Life Team on 8/17/2016 1:29:07 AM

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