Are we heading into one of the hottest summers on record? If forecasts are correct, farmers worldwide need to prepare their animals for heatwaves. This especially applies to chickens, which struggle to maintain their performance and health during hot weather.
Though shaded enclosures, cooling fans and sprinkler systems can keep livestock cool, the right diet can give their body the nutrients necessary to conserve energy and stay productive. Which feed supplements will help chickens to stay cool and maintain their production? Our Acadian Kelp™ seaweed products might help.
Here is information on how heat stress in chickens negatively impacts their wellbeing and how seaweed can help with poultry heat stress management.
How Heat Impacts Chickens’ Health
Why are elevated temperatures particularly difficult for chickens? There are numerous factors. For one, the process of selective breeding has made chickens increase their metabolic rate, which also causes them to produce more body heat. As a result, it’s much easier for domestic poultry to overheat on swelteringly hot days.
Two, unlike humans, chickens do not have sweat glands, and their feathers lack the ability to harness any breezes to cool the birds’ bodies. Air sacs within chickens help them to increase airflow and dissipate heat, but these processes can also result in higher CO2 and blood pH levels, which can respectively increase oxidative stress and lower egg mineralization. Neither is great for keeping chickens healthy or productive.
When provided the right diet, though, chickens can keep a better handle on their metabolism through great feed efficiency. Plus, when provided with a diet rich in antioxidants, chickens can better mitigate the negative effects of oxidative stress, increasing their life span and resilience.
The Impact of Seaweed on Heat Stress
How does seaweed help? Studies conducted in Nova Scotia have shown how kelp for chickens benefits the health and production of laying hens. In a 41-week trial, three different groups of poultry from the same lineage were tested to see how diet impacted their ability to function under heat stress. One group received feed with 3% Chondrus crispus, one group received feed with 0.5% Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed, and third received feed without seaweed.
At the end of the trial period, poultry that received seaweed in their feed demonstrated higher levels of egg production as well as greater feed efficiency when compared to the control group. Additionally, they were less prone to the adverse effects of elevated temperatures.
Even though farmers have little control over the causes of heat stress, feeding their flock seaweed can keep them healthy and productive for years to come.
Are you prepared to mitigate heat stress in chickens? Reach out to a member of the Acadian Kelp™ team to find out how to incorporate seaweed into your summer feed regimen.