The hot season is already here and you might have been looking for effective ways to keep your layers cool. Remember, if a hen is unable to keep its body cool, its egg production and laying performance will greatly reduce. Additionally, if the body temperature of a chicken is too high for a very long time, such chicken can die due to heat stress.
To determine if your chickens are suffering from heat stress, keep a close watch on their behaviors as they try to keep their body temperature down. Chickens don’t have a sweat gland, so the only way they can cool their body is by panting to enable the moisture in their lungs to evaporate and dissipate heat from their bodies. The first signs you will notice is that they keep panting and keep their two wings away from their main bodies. When you observe that they are listless and that their breathing is labored, then they are suffering from heat stress.
Below are some helpful tips on how to keep your chickens cool in hot weather or season:
1. Provide a lot of space: Ensure that your chickens have enough space in their pen(s). The natural body temperature of chickens is 107°F. If you put them in a small space, it will be very difficult for them to cool down their body temperature. The recommended floor space for poultry chickens is 4sqft/bird.
2. Adequate Ventilation: The pen of your birds should be well-ventilated. If there is a good flow of air in the pen, the heat and moisture put off by the birds will be easily eliminated. In a situation where natural ventilation is not possible, it is recommended to install a fan to remove heat and cool the pen.
3. Provide a Shade: It is good to always position your chicken coop or pen under a tree or where there is a shade to prevent direct contact with sunlight as well as to minimize the ambient temperature. If there is no shade, white metal roofing material could be used to roof the pen.
4. Water: You should provide a lot of cool water for your chickens in hot weather. This is very important. When the weather is extremely hot, serve your chickens with cooler water all through the day. Note that chickens tend to drink more water when the weather is hot than a cold period. The waterers or drinkers should also be placed where sun rays will not reach, and if possible, add ice to the water. When the water is very fresh and chill, your chickens will take advantage of it to cool their body. You can also install mister in the pen to keep it cool. A sprinkler can also be used to sprinkle cold water on the birds to keep their temperature low.
Be very observant whenever you get to the pen of your chickens. Always check on them and observe their behavior to know if they are having problems.
Hint: The above tips can be used for all poultry birds such as layers, broilers, turkeys, quail, guinea fowls and others.