Managing the effects of elevated temperatures on breeder performance

Elevated temperatures lead to signs of discomfort

If hot weather occurs during a period with high humidity a strong decrease in egg production and egg quality can be the result. To avoid performance failure, recognise the signs of discomfort caused by elevated temperatures and act upon them. Breeders that struggle to regulate their temperature will show the following signs:

  • They will lift their wings
  • They will start panting
  • A decreased feed intake in combination with an increase in water consumption
  • Activity will go down

Supplements to rehydrate breeders exposed to high temperatures

When breeders come into production, their metabolism becomes much more active. Their body temperature will start to rise, and they will start panting to get rid of the heat. Panting leads to an increase of the blood pH. In an attempt to correct the pH, loss of body salts and water will occur. Direct effects of dealing with high temperatures are an imbalance of the oxidative system and an increase of blood cortisol. The aforementioned effects should be compensated by supplementing the birds with electrolytes and trace elements. As birds exposed to elevated temperatures will not eat, while increasing their water intake, the supplement should be provided via their drinking water system. 

Management of periods with exposure to high temperatures

Supplementation with electrolytes and trace elements will only work in combination with a management programme addressing all aspects of exposure to elevated temperatures. To maintain performance and egg quality at the normal level and to avoid deaths, it is important to:

  • Reduce the stocking density.
  • Increase the number of air changes per hour by increasing ventilation.
  • Give the birds the opportunity to drink cold water.
  • Feed the birds during periods with a low temperature.
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