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Heat Stress in Poultry - Key Points

By Sally Noll, Extension Specialist

The forecast for the coming days look hot and humid!  Review these key points to keep your flock safe in the heat.
Consider both temperature and humidity when assessing potential heat stress conditions.
  • High humidity decreases poultry heat loss from the lungs making the birds more susceptible
  • Measure both temperature and relative humidity (RH) in the barn
  • Temperature and humidity indexes are available   Note for older turkeys, temperature at 85°F with humidity above 50% puts turkeys in the danger zone, at 90° F and 50% RH the risk increases and becomes extreme
  • If misting or fogging at low humidity’s, monitor RH to prevent excessive moisture in the air that can exacerbate the heat stress condition
Ventilation and air circulation at bird level are critical to remove bird heat.
  • Naturally ventilated barns are at risk if air is calm and supplemental fans are not present. Supplemental fan placement affects circulation 
  • Mechanically ventilated barns can also be at risk if barns lack ventilation capacity & air mixing for the size and number of birds present
Night time cooling is very important in order to allow bird recovery especially when multiple days of heat stress occur.

Mitigation other than facility adjustments mentioned above can include:
  • Use of water soluble electrolytes and vitamins starting before heat stress
    • Potassium chloride (KCl) at .6% in the water is most effective
    • Don’t use the electrolytes any longer than three days
  • Withdrawal of feed 6 hrs before peak heat  
    • Restore feed when temperatures decline that day
    • Have feeders full when lowering the feed line
    • Use lighting during the night (midnight feeding) to allow feed intake
  • Delay activity in the barn such as moving of birds or litter conditioning
  • Provide shade for pastured poultry or decrease sun exposure in the barn
  • Flush water lines and waterers periodically to keep water fresh and cool

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