Now that the warmer days are coming to the northern hemisphere, days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising. With this, multiple problems might start to increase at farms. One of these challenges is the well-known heat stress.
Heat stress is a state of the animal, which they enter if the animals are having difficulty to achieve a balance between body heat production and the loss of excessive heat. This challenge can affect all types of productions and can result into inflammation, a reduced growth of the animals, lower egg production, lower egg quality and even death of the animals in extreme cases.
Poultry can hold and loose heat at a controlled and stable rate by using different mechanisms. Only when external and internal conditions change it’s possible that the animal reaches the upper critical temperature limit, which requires the bird to try different strategies to lose heat actively. One common strategy is panting.
Panting is the action of increasing the inspiration-expiration rate with short quick breaths. The process of panting itself is a normal response to heat but it becomes dangerous when it’s intensified or continues for long periods of time.
If heat production becomes much higher than the capacity of the bird to eliminate; this condition is called heat stress.
Heat stress can be divided in two different subclassifications depending on how critical the problem is. If its intense and fast in a short period of time, it is called acute heat stress. On the other hand, if the problem is over long period of time it will be called chronic heat stress. A rise in the birds internal temperature from over 4~C is considered as heat stress already and if there isn’t any action taken to reduce the production of heat in animal, it can result in death.
Besides temperature, humidity plays an important role in the challenge of heat stress. High humidity levels in the farm will lower the capacity of the animal to lose heat via panting. Therefore it is always important to consider the humidity level, if we want to utilize mist or humidifiers to avoid complications on the animals condition.
To counteract the negative effect of heat accumulation and to help animals to archive homeostasis again, there are multiple strategies that can be taken. The most important will be to improve the housing of the animals by providing the birds proper ventilation. In majority of the cases, a proper air flow will help the animals to reduce heat stress.
Beside changes in the housing, some other strategies can also help to improve the animals condition:
- Water management: Increasing the fresh water supply for the animals ensures a proper water consumption of the animals. The cooling of the water and additional waterers encourage the animal to drink water; and as a result to cool down.
- Feeding management: Withdrawing feed for the animals five to six hours before peak times of high temperatures can lower the risk of heat stress.
- Usage of water and feed supplements:
- Electrolytes: Multiple studies have shown that the addition of electrolytes prior to and during high temperature periods will replenish the mineral loss that the animals might have due to heat stress.
- Vitamins: The supplementation of fat and water soluble vitamins can be effective to reduce the mortality in broiler productions. Multiple studies show that the supplementation of Vitamin C during heat stress can support egg production and fertility.
- Usage of feed additives: Using products that helps to cool down the animals temperature, additionally improves the water consumption reducing the presence of heat stress.
At XVET, we count on multiple solutions against heat stress and the negative side effects that come with it. Products such as 42 Degree and Aromax, the properties of various botanical extracts are being used to tackle inflammation, oxidative stress, and other heat stress effects; by keeping a healthy respiratory system and providing a fast and efficacious solution to bring the body to its homeostasis. XVETs vitamin products, such as Turbo Fluid, can provide fat and water soluble vitamins that offer multiple options to reduce the effect of heat stress.