Farmers cautioned to be on the alert for signs of heat stress in poultry
As the county is experiencing extremely hot weather of late, Emilie Abraham, Technical Officer within Agribank’s Agri Advisory Services Division has cautioned poultry farmers to be on alert and watch their flock frequently for signs of heat stress.
“Heat stress occurs at all ages and in all types of poultry birds. However older birds, heavy breeds and broilers are typically more susceptible to heat stress. Under high temperature conditions, birds find it difficult to cope with stress. This condition does not require a farmer to administer antibiotics at all, but rather proper management has to be put in place to mitigate the effects of this threat,” Abraham said.
Birds are ‘heat stressed’ when they find it difficult to achieve a balance between body heat production and body heat loss.
According to Abraham, a bird’s body temperature must remain within the range of 40°C to 42°C as anything above this, can lead to the death of the bird, which may lead to flock losses and reduced enterprise profitability.
“As a poultry farmer, your goal is to manage the birds such that they produce optimally, in order to make a profit. Therefore, proper and sound management is required to sustain your poultry farming business,” she added.
When birds are heat-stressed they show signs of reduction in feed intake, increase in panting, increase in water consumption, darkening of skin, amongst others.
In order to prevent loss in breed, meat and egg production, Abraham advised that the poultry house should be designed in such a way that the longest side faces the direction of the wind.
“This will facilitate even ventilation, making the birds receive fresh air evenly. Hence, proper ventilation in respect of the orientation of the poultry house should be achieved,” she added.
Furthermore, Abraham stressed that stock density should be reduced to create more space so as to minimise loss of heat, adding that during heat stress, birds should be fed during the cooler hours of the day.
“Farmers are advised to stop guessing and rather liaise with the nearest state veterinary office for disease confirmation,” Abraham concluded.
caption: Birds experience diarrhoea as a result of too much water intake than usual, which could be a sign of heat stress.