Summer time can represent a stressful time for production poultry. Warmer seasonal temperatures decrease feed intake, performance and affects the immune system. Life threatening combinations of high temperature and humidity call for emergency procedures to reduce mortality. Sudden increases in temperature as the spring moves into summer are particularly stressful for older birds that are not yet acclimated. Heat stress occurs as the core body temperature continues to increase to fatal temperatures because heat removal is insufficient and metabolic coping mechanisms are limited.
Current production methods often involve large numbers of birds being housed together making them susceptible to heat stress. Heat stress not only causes suffering and death in the birds, but results in reduced or lost production and hence adversely affects the profit from the enterprise.
Poultry do not sweat and therefore must dissipate heat in other ways to maintain their body temperature at approximately 105Â°F. During the hot summer months, evaporative heat loss typically becomes the primary method by which birds regulate their body temperature unless proper ventilation is provided and other steps are taken to reduce heat stress.
Article made possible through the contribution of Dr Suhas A. Amrutkar.