Chickens can easily fall ill during the hot summer season. High temperatures and humidity during the summer months are not conducive to the production of chickens. While there is no noticeable change in the performance of laying chickens throughout the temperature range of 10-28℃, when the temperature is higher than 30℃, it’s common to see a decrease in feed intake, egg-laying rate, and fertilization rat which can cause slow growth and reduce the percentage of live weight growth. In turn, the egg-laying rate causes egg prices to rise. As the heat increases, it’s essential to pay special attention to the poultry farms’ cooling and heatstroke prevention.
What can we do to keep chickens cool and healthy during the summer?
Poultry farms must keep their focus on ventilation, cooling, and heat insulation measures. These are the most commonly practiced cooling methods:
- Equipment Cooling System
- Green Cooling
- Building Cooling
- Water Cooling
- Feeding Cooling
#1 Equipment Cooling System
Exhaust and/or Circulation Fan
The Principle and Installation
A mall exhaust fan or circulation is installed on the wall or roof. The number of installations depends on the poultry area, but a rough estimate is 150m2/set. Using negative pressure to exhaust the air inside the house makes it possible to accelerate the airflow in the house, cooling the poultry farm.
Use and Operation
An exhaust fan and circulation fan are typically used in semi-enclosed brooding houses for cooling chicks over 15 days old, during which time the growth temperature for the chick is required to be much higher. After 15 days, the needed environmental temperature does not get higher because the chicks’ physiological position has been further improved. When poultry temperatures reach 32℃, the chickens can quickly become ill. You will need to open the exhaust fan or circulation fan for ventilation and cooling. Once the temperature reaches 35℃ or higher, you can then open the circulation fan to the air supply.
While this has a specific effect on poultry ventilation, the cooling effect is not very satisfactory. You’re more likely to see better results with ground watering. A growing trend in broiler farms is to use small fans for ventilation and cooling, which is a much better method than using small exhaust fans.
Principle and Installation
The power of the wall fan is considerably more than that of the exhaust fan. The power is about 350W, and it is installed on the column of the house or a support beam within the chicken coop. It’s recommended to install one at every eight meters according to the structure of the chicken house. The fan runs continually to speed up the cooling of the chicken house.
Use and Operation
The wall fan is only used in an open breeding house because the growth chickens have less fat, and the heat resistance is more robust than in an egg-laying breeder. Therefore, the wall fans can only be used to cool down in summer. The input cost is lower than the other equipment. The wall fan is turned on when the temperature is above 25℃, and the air is humid and poorly ventilated. Occasionally, some wall fans are installed on the egg-laying houses because of the poor longitudinal ventilation and cooling.
These fans can be easily damaged if proper maintenance measures aren’t taken. Parts can be broken, which will prevent the shutters from opening and blowing on the left and right.
Fan-Cooling Pad System
The longitudinal Cooling Pad Ventilation System is the most effective measure to be widely used in window or closed chicken houses. The evaporative cooling pad is installed on the side of the chicken house is the most common way to cool down the chicken houses. The negative pressure exhaust fan is installed on the other side of the chicken houses. The longitudinal negative pressure ventilation can be effectively cool down the chicken houses’ temperature, eliminate and overcome dead corners of ventilation in chicken houses to avoid the unevenness of low speed.
Spray Cooling System
Principle and Installation
A cooling system sprays water mist in a very fine imperceptible state. During the gasification processing, an amount of heat was absorbed in the air environment to cool and ventilate. Four to five spray pipes can be installed in a single chicken house, and the distance between the nozzles on the spray pipes is about 80 cm.
Use and Operation
Suitable for egg-laying and breeding houses, this method can be used for heatstroke prevention and cooling when the temperature is above 33℃. This system sprays once every 15-30 minutes, and each spray lasts around two minutes. You can also install a timer to control the system.
The sprinkler is easy to block, and it requires on-time cleaning and maintenance.
#2 Green Cooling
Planting Trees – By having trees around both sides of the chicken coop, you can avoid direct sunlight, allow the chickens to roost in the shade of trees, and reduce the breeding density.
Greening – Plant grass around the chicken house and use the lawn to absorb heat, thus avoiding any sunlight reflection.
Planting Climbing Plant – Planting creepers or loofah near the chicken houses lets plants cover the house’s roof to provide heat insulation and shade.
The cooling effect requires these plants to flourish and multiply. When typhoons and rain come, it will cause the climbing plants’ branches and roots to damage the chicken farm building. In addition, heavily planted areas can easily attract wild animals and expose chickens to disease risk.
#3 Building Cooling
Sunshading Nets – Installing a sun shading net on the window prevents sunlight from entering the chicken houses. The sun shading net can also be installed on the roof of the chicken house. It must be higher than 50 cm off the ground of the chicken house. You can also cover the roof in 10-15 cm of straw, sprinkle it with water, and keep it moist to prevent a lot of heat from entering the houses.
Spraying Lime on the Roof – The roof and outer walls will be painted in white using white lime or white cement to improve reflectively of outside surface and the heat loss rate, reducing heat transfer into the chicken houses.
Heat Insulation – By making a ceiling with 2cm of white foam above two meters of the chicken house, a lot of heat can be isolated on the ceiling to cool the house down.
Pergola – Setting up a pergola near the chicken house will allow chickens to slow down their breeding density.
The manual installation of sun shading net, pergola, and heat insolation requires a considerable investment cost. In addition, the sun shading net and straw are easily damaged, which can influence chicken’s growth when the rain comes.
#4 Water Cooling
Spraying Humidifier – Using a high-pressure sprayer to spray cold water increases the air humidity in the surrounding environment to cooling and ventilation.
Spraying Water on the Ground – Spraying water on the ground of the chicken house for evaporation requires opening the window for ventilation. Otherwise, high humidity in the house will also aggravate high temperatures.
Spraying Water of the Roof of Chicken House – Underground water can be pumped to the roof of the chicken house, sprayed on the roof or outer structure from holes or sprinklers. This can affect the chicken house’s humidity if it is in a suitable area with sufficient water sources.
The Chicken House Backflow Water – A thin plastic hose is placed under the roof or on the roof, connecting circulation water on the outside. This is a suitable method if you don’t have a lot of space.
Water spraying needs to be used with an exhaust fan. Not only do you waste water resources, but you also increase your air humidity, which is not conducive to the prevention of disease within the chicken houses.
Note: If the humidity is higher within the chicken houses, then it’s not suggested to implement a cooling method with water because the high temperature and humidity will be unfavorable for chickens’ growth.
#5 Feeding Cooling
Watermelon Peel – Cut a watermelon peel into pieces and feed about 50 grams to each chicken twice a day. This can be done at noon or the afternoon, or early evening. You can also put some soybeans and gypsum powder to soak for 24 hours at a ratio of 100 grams and 10 kilograms of water. This infusion can be used as drinking water to feed chickens to improve chickens’ heat resistance level.
Feeding Raw Pumpkin – Cut the raw pumpkin into small pieces to feed to your chickens. Feeding raw pumpkin enables the egg-laying chicken to survive the hot summer and promotes egg-laying chickens to improve their egg production.
Feeding Additives – You can add suitable vitamins C, E, K, B2, and biotin to your chicken’s daily diet in the hot summer. By adding some soda or bromide buffer, you can prevent high-temperature damage.
Increased feed intake can promote growth, improve your chicken’s production performance, and reduce heat stress.
It increases the breeding cost of your chickens.