Are You Prepared for Extreme Heat?

Extreme Heat can lower production and cause heat related illnesses to occur

Getting your Birds Ready

Reduce stocking density in summer months if your system has challenges maintaining temperatures during extreme heat.

  • Poultry require more water during extreme heat;
    • Ensure your system is capable of providing additional amount;
    • Install larger storage tank, drill a new well, etc;
  • Ensure adequate water supply before installing sprinklers, mister or evaporative cooling systems in the barns. Remember these systems will be operating at the same time as when the birds are drinking more water; and
  • Heat stress increases urinary and fecal excretion of minerals and trace elements.

Managing the Event

Monitor the flock closely. Check if birds are consuming enough water by looking at the colour of the comb or perform crop check by palpating the lower portion of the neck.

The crop should be soft and malleable and individual pellets should not be felt. Note that with increased water consumption litter moisture will increase.

Aviagen recommends water temperature to be maintained between 18-21°C, and never reach above 30°C.

  • Consider flushing waterlines to keep water cool;
  • Consider testing water quality during a drought as water quality can become effected;
  • Test that automatic waters are operating; and
    • Tap the nipples along the line to check for clogs, measure flow rate to make sure your pressure is high enough to ensure poultry are easily able to consume the quantity of water they need.

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To learn more, the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. has an on-line heat stress calculator where you enter the temperature and humidity and it will provide the humidex rating.

Managing the Event

Measuring Water Flow Rate

Measure the rate to ensure adequate pressure to confirm poultry can consume the quantity of water they need.

  • Measure at the opposite end of the water line to the pressure regulator;
  • Place measuring cup under activated nipple for 30 seconds; and
  • Measure amount of water and multiple by 2 for amount per 60 seconds.


Recommended Flow Rates
Bird Age Flow Rate (ml/min)
0-7 days 38 -327
8-14 403 -737
15-21 747 - 795

Source: Aviagen

Regular Water Requirements for Poultry under Normal Conditions

(Excerpt from OMAFRA factsheet, Water Requirements of Livestock, 07-023)

Water Consumption of Broiler Chickens by Age

Broiler Checken Age (weeks)
Water Requirements (L/1,000 birds/day)
21°C 32°C
1-4 50-260 50-415
5-8 345-470 550-770

Water Consumption of Broiler Chickens by Season
Season Average Typical Water Use* (L/1,000 birds/day)
Winter, fall, spring 280
Summer 450

* Typical consumption over a year on a daily basis under average agricultural conditions in Ontario. 

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Layers, Pullets and Broiler Breeders

Water Consumption by Chicken Classes Other Than Broilers
Chicken Type Weight Range Water Requirement Range*
(L/1,000 birds/day)
Average Typical Water Use**
(L/1,000 birds/day)
Laying hens 1.6-1.9 180-320 250
Pullets 0.05-1.5 30-180 105
Broiler breeders 3.0-3.5 180-320 250

* A result of the animals’ environment and management.
** Typical consumption over a year on a daily basis under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.


Water Consumption of Turkey by Age
Turkey Age (weeks)
Water Requirements Range* (L/1,000 birds/day)
10°C-21°C 27°C-35°C
1-7 38-327 38-448
8-14 403-737 508-1,063
15-21 747-795 1,077-1,139

* Includes spillage losses (typically 2% or less of total consumption)


Water Consumption of Turkey by Type
Turkey Type
Water Requirements Range* (L/1,000 birds/day)
Fall/Winter/Spring Summer
Broiler turkey 296 402
Heavy hens 431 600
Turkey toms 513 723

*Typical consumption over a year on a daily basis under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.

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Check for Signs of Heat Stress

Open mouth panting
Wing spreading
Squatting close to the ground


Panting depletes blood bicarbonate. Consider the use of electrolytes during extreme heat periods.

  • Sodium and potassium have been shown to reduce the effects of heat stress likely because it increases water intake;
  • Vitamins E, D, A, C and niacin are known to have a positive effect on the response of birds to heat stress, increase the level of vitamins by 1.25% per 1 ̊C above 21, if above 28 ̊ then 2.5% increase per 1 ̊C; and
  • Other additives shown to have benefits in improving heat tolerance are: betaine and glucose.

Discuss with your veterinarian the use of anti-coccoidal in heat stress situations. Certain anticoccidials (Nicarbazin) are toxic to birds when fed in hot weather. However, growing birds need protection against coccidiosis at all times, including hot weather.


Consider adjusting to a more digestible feed for flocks reared during the summer.

  • Correctly balanced nutrient levels and highly digestible feed will help birds cope;
  • Feed should be accessible 24/7 allowing feeding during cooler periods of the day; and
  • Feeds high in fat or oil, low in carbs reduces heat production during metabolism.

Limit handling and change barn walking to slow movement throughthe birds. Birds sit during hot weather and in doing so trap heat. By slow walking through the birds, they stand and ventilation removes the heat around the birds. Avoid transporting flocks during days of extreme temperature-procurement might reschedule your processing date or shift your catch time. Extreme heat will not only impact your birds, but will also have an effect on family members and staff. Refer to the chart below to review heat stress information for humans.


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Heat Stress Action Chart for Humans
 Humidex  Action Recommended

Low 30-37

  • Post heat stress alerts
  • Drink Water

Medium 38-38

  • Reduce physical activity (slower pace/more breaks)
  • Drink a cup of water every 20-30 minutes

 Moderate 40-41

  • Further reduce physical activity
  • Drink a cup of water every 15-20 minutes

High 42-44

  • Severely curtail physical activity
  • Ensure sufficient rest/recovery time
  • Drink a cup of water every 10-15 minutes

Extreme 45+

  • Hazardous to continue physical activity

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Check that generator is functioning and has adequate fuel.

Are You Prepared for Extreme Cold?

Getting Your Barn Ready for Extreme Cold

Are there steps that can be taken to prevent the external waterlines from freezing? If waterlines freeze is there an alternative poultry barn water source that can be used? Birds can be lost from heat related dehydration and cold related dehydration.

Barn construction should be such as to withstand the highest amount of snow ever recorded in your municipality. Know the snow load capacity of your poultry barns and arrange for safe removal of excess snow build up on the roof.

  • Ensure your heating system is sized properly for the barn and it is properly maintained;
  • Check that your generator is working properly before an extreme cold event or a predicted winter storm. Note an alternative fuel supplier for the generator;
  • If your fuel supply is delivered to site via truck, check fuel levels to ensure you will not run out during a cold event as heaters will be working more to maintain barn temperatures;
  • Winterize the poultry barn to reduce drafts, install covers over summer fans, check inlet openings and adjust cables as needed; and
  • Keep additional bedding on hand.

Managing the Event 

Ensure your poultry barn is operating properly. Check on the birds during extreme cold weather. Poultry may require additional feed to meet increased energy requirements.

If your birds are scheduled to be caught during extreme cold be sure to acclimate your birds before the catch.

Make sure driveways and area around barn is cleared of snow and ice prior to the catch. Consider options if catch is delayed – plan to keep birds for extra days.

  • Check that heaters are operating normally and have adequate fuel onsite;
  • If required install alternative heating source;
  • Monitor the snow load on your poultry barn and shovel off if needed; and
  • Ensure icicles and snow drifts from the roof are removed as these pose a safety hazard to staff and catchers.

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