Heat stress in poultry refers to the physiological and metabolic strain experienced by birds when they are exposed to high temperatures and humidity levels beyond their comfort zone.
Unraveling the Causes: Understanding Heat Stress in Poultry
Poultry, such as chickens and turkeys, are particularly vulnerable to heat stress due to their limited ability to dissipate heat efficiently. When poultry experience heat stress, their body temperature rises, and they struggle to maintain homeostasis, leading to a range of negative effects. Heat stress can result in substantial losses in poultry production, and the specific percentage of losses can vary depending on the severity and duration of the heat stress episode, as well as the management practices in place. However, it is estimated that heat stress can lead to the following approximate percentage losses:
Reduced Feed Intake: Heat-stressed birds may experience a decrease in feed intake by around 10-20%. This reduced feed consumption can result in decreased nutrient absorption and growth, leading to lower weight gain in meat-producing birds.
Decreased Weight Gain: Heat stress can lead to a decline in weight gain by approximately 5-15%. The diversion of energy towards thermoregulation rather than growth can slow down the birds’ development and delay their market readiness.
Decreased Egg Production: Heat-stressed laying hens may experience a decrease in egg production by around 5-20%. The decline in egg-laying can be a result of disrupted reproductive cycles and decreased fertility.
Reduced Hatchability: Heat stress can lead to a decrease in hatchability rates by approximately 5-15%. The elevated temperatures can negatively affect embryonic development and increase embryonic mortality, resulting in reduced hatch rates.
Increased Mortality: Heat stress can significantly increase mortality rates, particularly in young chicks and older birds. Mortality percentages can vary widely depending on the severity of the heat stress episode, but it can range from 5-30% or even higher in severe cases. It’s important to note that these percentage losses are approximate and can vary depending on various factors. Implementing effective heat stress management strategies can help minimize these losses and ensure the well-being and productivity of poultry in challenging environmental conditions.
Strategies for Reducing Antibiotics in Heat Stress Management
Reducing the use of antibiotics in the heat stress management of poultry is an important step towards promoting sustainable and responsible farming practices. Heat stress can have a negative impact on poultry health and productivity, leading to increased susceptibility to diseases. While antibiotics may be used to prevent or treat bacterial infections, their overuse can contribute to antibiotic resistance, a serious global health concern. Here are some strategies to reduce antibiotics in managing heat stress in poultry:
Improve Housing Conditions: Enhance the poultry house design and ventilation system to minimize heat stress. Adequate airflow, proper insulation, and shade can help maintain optimal temperature and reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses. By creating a comfortable environment, the overall health and resilience of the birds can be improved, reducing the need for antibiotics.
Nutritional Management: Provide a balanced and nutritionally rich diet to support the birds’ immune system and overall health. During heat stress, poultry may experience decreased feed intake, resulting in nutrient deficiencies. Ensuring an appropriate diet that meets the birds’ requirements can help them cope with the stress, strengthen their immune system, and reduce the incidence of infections.
Water Management: Poultry should have access to clean and cool water at all times, especially during heat stress. Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for their well-being and can help prevent dehydration and related health issues. Regularly check the water quality, availability, and delivery systems to ensure that birds are adequately hydrated.
Biosecurity Measures:Implement strict biosecurity protocols to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases. This includes controlling access to the poultry farm, proper cleaning and disinfection practices, and separation of sick birds from the healthy ones. By minimizing the risk of disease transmission, the need for antibiotics can be reduced.
Probiotics and Prebiotics: Consider incorporating probiotics or prebiotics into the birds’ diet. These beneficial microorganisms can help support gut health, improve nutrient absorption, and enhance the birds’ immune response. By promoting a healthy gut microbiota, the risk of infections can be reduced.
Natural Remedies: Explore the use of natural alternatives such as herbal extracts, essential oils, and organic acids, which have been shown to have antimicrobial properties. These natural remedies can be used as alternatives to antibiotics, helping to control certain bacterial infections in poultry.
Stress Management: Implement stress reduction strategies to minimize the negative impact of heat stress on poultry. This can involve reducing noise levels, avoiding overcrowding, and minimizing other stressors such as sudden changes in light or handling procedures. Stress management helps to maintain a robust immune system and decreases the likelihood of infections.
Transitioning to antibiotic reduction in heat stress management requires careful planning, monitoring, and collaboration with veterinarians and poultry experts. It’s essential to develop a comprehensive management plan that takes into account the specific needs of the birds, the local climate, and the available resources to ensure the welfare and health of the poultry while reducing antibiotic usage.
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.
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- Heat stress in poultry, What oxidative stress has to do with it, why it affects gut health, and how phytomolecules support mitigation strategies, 22 March 2023, By: Guillermo Gaona | Marisabel Caballero
- Effects of feeding Bacillus subtilis to heat stressed broiler chickens with or without an antibiotic growth promoter, Bibek Chandra Roy, Sachchidananda Das Chowdhury and S. M. Lutful Kabir, June 2015 Asian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 2015
- A review of heat stress in chickens. Part I: Insights into physiology and gut health, Giorgio Brugaletta, Jean-Rémi Teyssier, Samuel J. Rochell, Sami Dridi and Federico Sirri, Front. Physiol., 04 August 2022 Sec. Avian Physiology