Heat Stress in Chickens : Definition, Types, and Factors that Cause it

Please note that the way of keeping poultry, especially chickens, is greatly influenced by environmental temperature and weather conditions. Management of poultry rearing in the tropics is faced with high environmental temperatures, so the growth rate and production of meat and eggs produced do not match the genetic potential of livestock. The weather also affects the level of productivity of chickens, the weather in Indonesia today is high temperatures during the day and low temperatures at night. The maintenance methods and models applied should be different in each season.

Definition of heat stress

Definition of heat stress
Definition of heat stress

Poultry is classified as warm-blooded animals with specific characteristics that do not have sweat glands and almost all parts of the body are covered with feathers. This biological condition causes poultry in hot conditions to have difficulty dissipating their body heat into the environment during the day. If the ambient air temperature exceeds the normal temperature (>28° C) will result in heat stress or heat stress in chickens because chickens are unable to balance between the production and disposal of body heat. Heat stress is a stress caused by the temperature and humidity of the air in the cage exceeds the comfort zone. Therefore, farmers need to know that the comfort zone of chickens is in the temperature range of 25-28° C with a humidity of 60-70%.

Types of heat stress in chickens

Chickens exposed to heat stress will reduce feed consumption that can affect the growth,productivity, and body weight of chickens. There are two types of heat stress in chickens, namely acute and chronic heat stress, acute heat stress occurs when the temperature and humidity increase dramatically, while chronic heat stress is triggered by increased temperature and humidity for a relatively long time. Cases of heat stress itself is often experienced by adult chickens because they have perfect feathers that make it difficult to dissipate body heat. In addition, the large body size of adult chickens also produces more body heat.

Causes of heat stress

Some factors that cause heat stress in chickens include :

  • High genetic potential.
  • Chicken body temperature regulation system.
  • Climate in Indonesia.
  • Poor cage management.
  • Poor cage density.
  • Nutritional content that is not as needed.

Chicken behavior during heat stress

In principle, when the chicken is in a state of overheating (heat stress), the chicken will try to lower its body temperature through the release of body heat. However, because chickens do not have sweat glands, they will respond to this with some of the following behaviors :

  • Chickens hang, stretch, and spread their wings, but this effort is less than optimal because the ambient temperature of the cage is no different from the body temperature of the chicken.
  • Chickens attach the body to the cooler wall of the cage, sometimes chickens also do bathing in the drinker.
  • Chickens breathe through the throat or increase evaporation (evaporation). The cock will open its mouth and move its throat as a place for air to enter and exit.

The impact of global warming that continues to occur causing cases of heat stress will continue to threaten chickens. Moreover, during the dry season, farmers should pay more attention to the activity of chickens at any time. By knowing the symptoms of heat stress in chickens, farmers are expected to be more vigilant so as not to experience large losses. May be useful thank you.

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