Poultry Farming in summer is important to understand, as heat stress can cause various adverse effects including decreased poultry production and mortality. The summer season causes several harmful effects on broilers and layers, which ultimately reduces profitability. The goal of the profitable poultry farmer should be better disease control, high production, product quality and reasonable production costs. Summer stress is a severe concern for poultry producers as it directly leads to financial losses by impaired poultry performance. The detrimental effects of heat stress in poultry range from reduced growth and egg production to decreased poultry and egg quality and safety. Understanding and controlling heat stress in poultry is crucial for successful poultry production and welfare. The ideal temperature for poultry rearing is 18-28°C and the temperature above which heat stress starts is 30°C.

Signs/symptoms of heat stress:

  • Rapid respiration/panting
  • Prostration due to heatstroke
  • Poor feed conversion efficiency
  • Decrease in weight gain of birds
  • Lowers resistance to disease
  • Decrease in egg production
  • Reduction in egg size, poor shell quality of eggs.
  • Decrease in feed intake and increase in water intake.
  • Increase in cracked eggs, decrease in fertile eggs and reduced hatchability %.

Steps to combat heat stress in poultry farming in summer:

The aim of adopting measures to combat heat stress is to achieve profitable poultry rearing i.e. a number of eggs from the layer and better body weight at particular age with a specific food conversion ratio (FCR) in broilers.

The following steps will help to combat heat stress in poultry farming in summer: –

  • Housing management
  • Water management
  • Feeding management
  • General management

Housing management in poultry farming in summer:

  • Orient the long axis of the poultry house in an east-west direction to minimize solar heating and direct access to sunlight.
  • Poultry houses in the tropics should have good roof insulation (if possible, with a false roof to reduce the conduction of heat) with the support of foggers and cooler systems.
  • Increased air movement over the birds by cooler, fan/exhaust produces a wind chill effect which cools birds even without a drop in the house temperature.
  • Shed design and construction should allow direct sunlight on birds.
  • The thatching of the roof with paddy straw or sugarcane leaves will reduce the temperature inside the shed.
  • The roof should be painted with whitewash to reflect light.
  • Shades from tall trees and plantations around the shed can reduce the radiant heat. The plantation of trees should be such that trees will be leafy during summer& bald during winter.
  • Roof overhangs should be sufficient (3-5 ft) to protect the birds from strong sunrays.

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Water management in poultry farming in summer:

Practically water is the most important criterion of these four management factors during summer. In summer water consumption is 3-4 times more. Normally feed water consumption ratio is 1:2 but when the temperature shoots beyond 95°F, this ratio may increase up to 1:4 or more.

Points to be taken into consideration: –

  • An adequate supply of clean & cold water must be insured.
  • Use ‘Aqua cure’ in water to control infection through the water.
  • Cover water tanks with wet gunny bags to avoid direct exposure to the sun.
  • water tanks supplying drinking water may be kept under the roof and not on top of the roof.
  • Increase the frequency of watering.
  • The addition of 0.25% salt to drinking water like sodium carbonate may increase water consumption.
  • Do not withhold drinking water from the flock when the vaccine is provided through drinking water.
  • In the case of nipple drinkers, insulate the nipple pipe with wet gunny cloths.

Feed management in poultry farming in summer:

  • During summer consumption of feed by birds is reduced considerably leading to reduced body weight, egg production and shell quality.
  • Increase the frequency of feeding.
  • Do not offer feed during the daytime, offer feed during the cooler part of the day (early morning and evening).
  • Increase the nutrient density of feed to compensate for depressed feed intake.
  • Supplementation of limiting amino acids like methionine, lysine, and threonine will give better results rather than supplying total proteins.
  • 20- 30% extra vitamins and trace minerals should be added to the feed.
  • Vitamin C is an anti-stressor & increases the survivability of heat-stressed birds. Supplementation of 200mg/kg of vitamin C in combination with vitamin E (125 mg/kg) or 1 gm ascorbic /litre of drinking water throughout the heat period is recommended.
  • Vitamin E act as an antioxidant and supplementation of vitamin E @125mg/kg diet was beneficial to improve body wt. gain, breast & liver yield, immune-competence, economic & overall welfare of broiler chicken during extremely hot conditions.
  • Administration of vitamins like B2, B6, and B12 may have positive effects on body weight and immune-modulatory effects under heat stress.
  • The addition of ammonium chloride, potassium chloride and /or sodium bicarbonate has improved the performance of broilers by improving water and feed intake.
  • Use of probiotics by controlling the corticosterone level and the excessive release of pro-inflammatory agents. Lactobacillus-based probiotics enhance goblet cell count in the duodenum and jejunum of heat-stressed broilers thereby improving feed conversion ratio (FCR)
  • The addition of multistrain probiotics (Lactiplantibacillusplantarum, L. Bulgaria, L. acidophilus) increases egg production and feed intake in poultry.
  • To enhance the increase in feed intake & prevent selective feeding, the feed may be given in the pelleted form.
  • Since a hot humid climate favours the growth of mould/ fungi in the feed so constant use of antifungals is recommended.

General management in poultry farming in summer:

  • The depth of litter should be 2-3 inches on the floor. Stir the litter regularly to prevent caking.
  • 10% extra floor space should be provided in summer. The overcrowding of birds must be avoided.
  • Shifting, transportation, debeaking and vaccination should be done during the night or cool hours of the day.
  • Birds severely heat-stressed may be dipped in cold water for 2-3 minutes keeping their head & neck above water level.
  • Use foggers in the shed which reduce the shed temperature up to 5-10°C depending upon quality.
  • The house should be situated away from other buildings in order to facilitate the free movement of air.

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