Warming Grass – Backyard Poultry

Keep your birds cool and avoid heat stress.

By Heather Levine. Here in Tennessee, summer begins in early May
And it often doesn’t end until November. It’s not just hot here. It’s like living in someone’s mouth…with high temperatures and high humidity being the norm for most of the year. Keeping my flock cool during the endless summers sometimes feels like a full time job.

Many chicken keepers don’t realize that chickens have a harder time staying cool than they do staying warm. A hen’s body temperature ranges from 105 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, and roosters tend to have a slightly higher body temperature than chickens.
Once the temperature reaches 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the chicken changes its behavior to stay cool. You’ll see this behavioral change when they lift their wings away from their bodies, limit their activity to shaded areas, eat less, and pant more.

Heat stress hazards

Exposure to prolonged bouts of high temperatures, especially when damp
In the mix, it can cause heat stress in chickens. Broilers are at particular risk of heat stress due to their high metabolism.

Heat stress can decrease egg production. It can also lead to organ damage
It affects the cardiovascular system. Over time, heat stress can take its toll
immune system, which puts birds at greater risk for bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural herbs and strategies we can use to help keep our birds cool during the summer.

Naturally Cooling Herbs

Study 2016 in Iranian Journal of Applied Animal SciencesI found it
Broilers that were given dried mint powder during times of heat stress had a lower body temperature than the control group.

I grow a lot of mint in our house for this very reason. one of
The best way to give your chicken the benefits of mint is to put it fresh in the water every day. The mint gives the water a refreshing taste, and the chicken will drink more when it’s in there.

There are many other cooling herbs you can put in your chicken
Water every day, including lemon balm, borage, and holy basil (tulsi). You can also make tea with these herbs, and once they are completely cool, you can offer them to the chicken instead of water.

Lemon verbena, vitamin c and turmeric

Study 2016 in Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition It was found that adding vitamin C powder to chicken feed reduces the negative effects of heat stress.

Lemon verbena is a delicious herb to grow in the home, and it makes a tasty tea for you or your birds. You can mix fresh or dried lemon
Verbena with chicken feed, or put fresh lemon verbena in your daily water. DVM Poultry recommends that 200 mg to 500 mg of vitamin C powder be given daily to laying hens that are heat stressed.

2015 study in Health and production of tropical animals Dried turmeric has been found to help improve stress tolerance and immune response in
Heat stressed chicken. Another study published in 2021 in vet f
It was found that turmeric not only prevents and reduces stress
But also reduce inflammation and stimulate growth performance in
Broiler chicken.

You can take advantage of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory benefits by sprinkling 250 mg per bird in the feed or water, especially on hot summer days.

Keep in mind that during hot weather, most chickens eat less and drink more. This is why consuming herbs and vitamins in water, rather than mixing them into the feed, can help ensure that your chickens will consume enough to experience the benefits.

Frozen fruit treats are a great source of vitamins and cold liquids and will keep your flock entertained. Photo by Heather LevineAnd

Lots of cold water

Chickens without access to fresh water will quickly die in the heat.
Therefore, make sure that the birds always have access to plenty of fresh, clean water to drink. Keep in mind that water evaporates quickly in hot weather, and yours will evaporate
Chickens will drink more, so check water levels throughout the day.

During the summer months, I put in several extra 5-gallon buckets modified with poultry nipples for my flock, just to make sure they didn’t run off.
Outside. Keep them in shady areas, where chickens like to rest naturally.
So they don’t have to walk long distances to get water.

If you’re already putting fresh mint in your chicken water, put in a little ice or a frozen water bottle. Drinking chilled mint water will help lower the chicken’s body temperature and encourage it to stay hydrated.

Consider late feeding

Digesting food raises their body temperature, so feeding birds later in the day can help them stay cooler. During the summer, I usually feed my free-range flock around 5:00 PM

If you want to provide treats during the day, choose healthy, hydrating foods like fresh watermelon, cucumber, or grapes. You might also consider switching chickens to starter feed, which is high in protein, and providing a free option for oyster shells to meet their calcium needs. Since many chickens eat less in heat, switching to primary feeding can help ensure they get the protein they need even when they eat less.

Popsicles for poultry

Think how refreshing a bowl of ice cream can taste on a hot summer day. Well, your chicken feels the same when you offer them healthy frozen foods like frozen bananas, grapes, berries, sweet peas, and other mixed vegetables. It helps keep them cool, and is a refreshing snack on a sweltering day.

Another option is to take fresh fruits and vegetables and pour them into a Bundt pan. Fill a Bundt with water and freeze it. When it’s completely frozen, set everything outside for the chicken to peck at.
You can also pour low-sodium canned vegetables into muffin tins and muffin tins
Freeze for an easy treat.

their little shade

If your chickens are confined to running during the day, make sure they have a shady place to stand no matter what time of day it is. And make sure the shaded area is large enough to accommodate your entire flock.

You can add shade to your run by using tarps, canopies, a tin roof, and a shade sail,
or trimmed tree branches. You can also create shade by planting trees, tall grasses, or shrubs along the outside of the run. No matter what strategies you decide to use to keep your chicken cool, they will appreciate it. After all, your chickens wear a fluffy coat on the hottest day of summer, so
Making sure they have cool water to drink, frozen treats, and plenty of shade will definitely make a difference!

HEATHER LEVIN is the head of a family, hen carer of over 30 chickens, and founder of The Greenest Acre and Chicken Health Academy, a leading online educational academy that teaches natural and emergency chicken care strategies. Get weekly chicken care tips at her website: The
Greenery of Acre.

• Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery, 2nd Edition (Personal
cc), (p. 47, chicken body temperature)
• “Efficacy of Mint Powder in Performance” South Al-Amri Al-Arabi,
F. Samadi, Iranian Journal of Applied Animal Sciences, 6:4, December 2016, Available here.
pp. 943-950. https://ijas.rasht.iau.ir/article_526645.html
• “The effect of lemon verbena potency on performance and immunity
From heat-stressed broiler chickens.” Rafi Rafi, Mohamed Mazhari, Animal Journal
Animal Physiology and Nutrition, 100:5, Oct 2016, pp. 807-812.
J https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jpn.12457? fbclid
= IwAR12cXpbNgObhPhQFJcmeafzV5QuGu6YrwIXcdGiWP9flV
UUEFICmvuhPGEhttp://www.poultrydvm.com/drugs/ascorbicacid#: ~:
text = add%20supplemental%20vitamin%20C%20
To, relieve %20 metabolism %20 markers %20 from %20 stress.
• “Attenuation of chronic heat stress in broilers by supplementation
From betaine and tumor”, Hossein Akhavan Salamat, Tropical Animal
Health and Production, 48, 2016, pp. 181-188. https://link. springer.
• “Effects of dietary turmeric in broiler chickens,” Maisam Khodadady,
Veterinary Zoology, 14 Dec. 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.

Originally published in the June/July 2023 issue of Backyard poultry Journal, and is regularly checked for accuracy.

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