From Ready Nutrition:
Chickens can withstand a lot weather extremes, but heat is not one of them. Did you know that a sudden increase in temperature is more dangerous for chicken’s than a gradual temperature climb? Chickens can become very stressed with sudden increases in temperatures and it stimulates additional blood flow to move away from vital organs and toward of areas of their body, such as, their combs, wattles and skin, thus making them more susceptible to heat stroke. What Happens When a Chicken Gets Overheated
Since chickens don’t sweat, you must be very watchful over them when the warmer months begin creeping up. In fact, chickens pant to cool off. As they pant, moisture within the chickens’ lungs evaporates and is moved out of their bodies. Our feathered friends prefer temperatures staying between 65 F and 75 F. That’s easier said than done in some parts of the country!
It is important to understand the dynamics of how chickens react to heat. First of all, the body temperature of a chicken is 107° F. When hens get too hot or stay hot for too long, they can die from heat stress. Typically, their body’s first reaction to heat is panting which helps them keep cool, but increases their respiratory and heart rate, as a result. This leads to expelling carbon dioxide at a much faster rate than normal which upsets the pH balance in their bodies and can lead to acidosis, a potentially fatal condition. Another common sign is the egg laying production will slow or suddenly stop. Here are some other common signs to look for:
Are they panting or walking around with their beaks open? Are they hanging their wings out a little distance away from their bodies? Have they become listless or their breathing has become labored? Lying on the ground with their wings spread. Eating little to no food.
If you see any of these signs, one “quick fix” is to make them some homemade electrolytes and set it out for them. This will help restore minerals lost from heat stress and normalize essential body functions for the heart, nerve and muscles.
Homemade Electrolyte Recipe
8 ounces warm water 2 teaspoons sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon baking soda Add electrolyte mixture to one gallon of water. Use full strength on severely ailing chickens, otherwise mix into their drinking water as needed. 10 Ways to Keep Your Chickens Cool
It should go without saying, but always make fresh water available to your flock of chickens. Water will decrease their internal temperature and cool them off. In addition to this, here are some other ways to help minimize any stress caused from heat.
Offer frozen treats. One of my favorite ways to help my girls cool off and treat them at the same time is to freeze some of their favorite foods in ice. Foods such as kitchen scraps, berries, frozen vegetables, etc. If you have a plethora of veggie and/or fruit peels, freeze them in some water, along with some homemade electrolytes and set it outside on…