What about your chickens?
It can get pretty steamy for us this time of year, and we have fans and air-conditioning to keep us comfortable. But what about your backyard chickens? If they showed signs of heat stress, would you recognize it? More importantly, would you know what to do?
An excellent article by Jessica Fox, DVM in this summer’s edition of Chicken Whisperer Magazine discusses the effect of everyday stress on your birds, and also details the effect of heat stress. Heat stress, in particular, can take a toll on the physical well-being of chickens.
Birds don’t have sweat glands, so they have to find ways to cool down when heat and humidity skyrocket.
Some of the behaviors include:
- Decreased activity
- Spread and drooped wings
- Feather ruffling
- Squatting on the ground
If your flock shows these signs and more, it’s time to take action! Provide additional shade, water, electrolytes, and antioxidant-rich supplements.
Keep them cool with frozen treats
Many poultry-keepers will take some of their bird’s special treats—lettuce, watermelon scraps, leftover fruit and vegetables—even wormy, windfall apples, if you have them—and freeze it all in a tin with water.
TIP: Never serve your flock anything that has “gone off” or is moldy—you don’t want to introduce more stress at this time.
When frozen solid, run your tin or bowl under some running water to loosen it and deliver upside-down to your flock. They’ll love it and cool off at the same time!
Click below to read all about heat stress on your flock