If you’ve been keeping poultry birds for a while now, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Do chickens sweat?”
It’s interesting to know if poultry birds perspire like us. And if they do, then how do chickens sweat?
Well, actually, chickens don’t sweat like humans.
But how do chickens expel heat from their body?
If you’re curious about that, you came to the right place!
In this article, we’ll unveil the science behind their heat dissipation and cooling mechanism as we discuss:
- Why chickens don’t sweat
- How they dissipate and expel heat from their body
- And how you can help them stay cool and prevent heat stress in your flock
But before that, let us first dig into why chickens aren’t capable of sweating like us.
Do Chickens Sweat?
Chickens don’t sweat through their skin, feet, or any part of their body.
Now the next question that might pop into your mind is, “Do chickens have sweat glands?” The answer is no; they don’t have sweat glands, which explains why you’ll never see a sweating chicken.
But if chickens don’t sweat, how do they regulate their body temperature?
Well, just like us, they still have evaporative cooling systems, but they do it differently.
So, How Do Chickens Cool Themselves?
These are the methods chickens use to regulate their body temperature during hot days.
Chickens mainly release their internal heat and cool themselves down by panting.
This process involves gular flutter, which is a quick throat movement that lets moisture evaporate from the lungs into the air.
How is it possible?
Chickens have a large number of air sacs in their body cavity, so when they inhale, it can push the cooler external air into their abdominal cavity.
Since external air is typically cooler than their body temperature, it helps to dissipate lots of heat.
2. Fluffing of Wings
If panting isn’t enough, chickens also fluff their wings to give off the heat beneath them.
Since the skin under their wings has very few feathers, it’s a perfect spot for heat to escape from their body.
However, during winter, they use it in a different way.
They fluff their wings to trap warm air against their bodies to keep themselves warm.
3. Releasing Through the Comb and Wattles
Another way chickens cool themselves down is with the help of their blood, which flows and expels heat through the comb, wattles, and limbs.
Then, when it cools down, it returns to its body’s interior, and the cycle continues.
However, it’s worth noting that excessive heat dissipation in combs and wattles makes these body parts paler than usual.
Aside from these heat dissipation methods, chickens also know how to cool themselves down practically using rehydration and finding shaded areas.
4. Drinking of Water
Chickens are smart enough to know that they need water when the heat is scorching.
They usually look for water as soon as possible to rehydrate themselves.
Since dehydration can be fatal, providing them with accessible clean and fresh water is crucial for their survival during hot seasons.
5. Finding Shelter
When chickens feel that they’re overheating, their usual response is to look for shade or shelter.
If they find a shady spot that is 10 degrees cooler than their body temperature, that’ll help a lot to cool them down.
Now that you know the answer to the question “Does chicken sweat” and how they cool themselves down, why don’t you try to observe your poultry birds in your backyard or farm?
It’s fun to spend time with them, and it also helps you get to know more about their nature and habits.
Observing them can also help you know if they need help.
When the heat is scorching, and the temperature is at its peak, chickens may struggle to cool themselves down and suffer from heat stress.
But How Do You Know if Chickens Are Too Hot?
Chickens’ normal body temperature is between between 105°F and 107°F degrees Fahrenheit.
Even if chickens don’t sweat, they can regulate their body temperature if the outdoor temperature is ten degrees below normal.
However, if the outdoor temperature rises above 95°F, your poultry birds will likely develop heat stress.
The risk is even higher during humid days because evaporative cooling is less effective during such times.
Well, humid air is saturated with water. That’s why it’s harder for chickens to transfer water within their lungs into the air, so panting becomes less effective.
But how will you know if your chickens do suffer from heat stress?
Just like humans, chickens’ body language provides telltale signs of their current condition.
If they exhibit the following signs, then chances are they’re experiencing heat stress and stroke:
Here Are The Common Signs of Heat Stress:
1. Rapid Breathing and Panting
If your poultry bird is rapidly opening its beak to release heat, that’s a beginning sign of heat stress.
They may try to breathe and pant as fast as possible to bring their body temperature down, but that may not be enough at times.
Then, they experience the next symptom.
Any activity requires energy and produces heat.
So if your poultry bird is lounging instead of foraging and is showing signs of discomfort, she may be suffering from heat stress.
These birds may also fall over or struggle to walk. If your bird is very lethargic and drooping, you must take immediate action because that’s a common telltale sign of heat stroke.
3. Slow production of eggs or complete halt on production
When a hen is suffering from stress, she may slow down in egg production or completely stop.
Furthermore, eggs are watery. So, if the chickens are dehydrated, they won’t have enough moisture and nutrients to continue producing eggs.
4. Loss of appetite
Dehydrated chickens usually lose appetite, and that results in reduced feed consumption.
Additionally, those who are under intense heat stress will prefer drinking more water than eating because digesting food generates internal heat.
5. Spreading of wings
As said earlier, chickens expel heat by fluffing their wings.
That’s why if they’re experiencing heat stress, they spread and fluff their wings more often in hopes of releasing more heat and allowing more airflow under their wings.
6. Paler combs and wattles
If their combs and wattles are paler than usual, that means they’re trying hard to dissipate heat as much as possible.
Due to their increased water intake to rehydrate their body, chickens experiencing heat stress may also suffer from diarrhea.
In worse cases, that can lead to loss of electrolytes and dehydration.
If your poultry birds are showing these symptoms, what can you do to help them?
How to Help Chickens Stay Cool
In this section, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to help your chicken regulate their body temperature.
If the environment or outdoor temperature exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit, here’s how to prevent heat stress in chickens.
1. Place Them In a Cooler Area
Move your birds out of direct sunlight and place them in a shaded spot or somewhere cooler to help them cool down much quicker.
You must also ensure that your chicken coop or enclosure has enough shade and space for all your poultry birds to avoid overcrowding.
That way, they can escape direct sunlight and avoid heat stress.
You must also open the windows and air vents to provide sufficient airflow in your coop.
But if you’re worried about predators entering your chicken’s coop, then choose a mesh-covered window that lets air in while keeping the predators out.
2. Alter Your Coop’s Design
If possible, alter your windows so that they would face the south.
This little adjustment can help a lot during the winter and dry seasons of the year.
It’d also help to paint your coop with lighter colors because they reflect heat instead of retaining them.
3. Provide Cool, Fresh Water
The next thing you should do is to give your chickens access to fresh and cool water.
If your bird is too lethargic, place it close to her so that it can drink water even without standing but make sure they won’t drop their head in the water because that can cause drowning.
It’d also help to add electrolytes to your chicken’s water to help them rehydrate and rebalance the vital nutrients in their body.
It also encourages them to drink more water which aids in regulating their body temperature.
Water also plays a vital role in chicken egg production.
Remember that an egg is 75% water, so having fresh and cool clean water is important, especially during hot summer.
Since chickens tend to fight just to access the water, you should provide more than one water source in their home.
4. Add Fans to The Coop
Enclosed chicken coops must have at least a fan for ventilation.
The ideal fans for coops and barns are wall mount fans because they’re easy to install, safer, and can be either electrical or solar-powered.
But here’s a gentle reminder:
Make sure it’s inaccessible to chickens to prevent injuries.
5. Provide Dust Baths
Your poultry birds will be ecstatic if you can provide them with a dust bath.
They like splashing cool dirt particles into their feathers while others roll in a dusty spot.
If you have no raw dirt patches or dusty spots in your garden, you can also use soil, mulch, or sand.
You can place them in a shallow container like kitty litter boxes, and your chickens will surely thank you for giving them an opportunity to have a summer dust bathing experience.
6. Give Them Frozen Summer Treats
Sipping ice water or licking ice cream is a great way to cool our body temperatures down, and the same thing applies to chickens.
They, too, can benefit from frozen chicken treats because it also helps them regulate their internal body temperature.
So, why not provide chilled or frozen popsicles, then add fruits to their water and freeze it?
You can also use the veggies they love from your garden but don’t overdo it.
The treats should make up only 10% of your chicken’s overall diet because they need a nutritionally balanced chicken feed as their main source of food and energy.
This way, your chickens can have their much-needed nutrients to survive and be productive, and the treat will only be an added bonus for the summertime.
You need to avoid high starch grains like corn during summer, though, because it heats up the chicken’s body temperature during the digestion process.
7. Hose Down Your Coop
It’s common knowledge that spraying cold water helps lower the ambient temperature. So, try hosing down the chicken coop’s roof or the areas where they like to hang out.
Then work your way down and wet the coop’s perimeter and enclosure to make the area cooler for your poultry birds.
This is extremely helpful when the temperature is around 90°F to 100°F.
Do it as often as possible and include their dust-bathing spots if possible because dampened and cooled dirt can also help them cool themselves when they kick the wet dirt into their feather and skin.
You can also provide tubs of water where they can take a splash if necessary.
8. Install Misters
If the shade and ventilation aren’t enough, consider adding misters to your coop when the scorching heat becomes unbearable.
Misters can help cool down the ambient temperature for up to 20 or 30 degrees.
Just look for free-standing misters attached to a hose in your local home improvement stores or hardware.
You can also opt for misting system kits that you can fix into the run of their hanging-out area or DIY it.
The rule of thumb when choosing a spray for DIY misters is to use fine-spray nozzles rated “0.5 GPH” or “1 GPH” (GPH stands for gallons per hour).
This rating signifies how much water is sprayed out of the sprayer’s nozzle per hour.
You must choose one with a very fine mist because it uses little water and is more cost-effective.
9. Monitor Their Condition
You also need to watch out for your chicken throughout its recovery and ensure it’s upright and doesn’t fall over.
If you don’t notice any improvement, you may have to contact your vet for further assistance.
Installing a thermometer is also a great idea to monitor your bird and the room’s temperature.
10. Avoid Getting Them Stressed
Avoid stressing your birds out and give them plenty of water, allowing them to stay calm and cool.
Stress can increase the risk of chicken heat stroke. Therefore, you need to tend to their needs and make sure they’re happy just like you.
Do Chickens Sweat: The Final Recap
Chickens don’t sweat because they don’t have sweat glands.
That’s why they rely on other methods to dissipate and expel heat from their body.
They release heat through panting, wing fluffing, and blood flow that gets to the combs and wattles.
But it’s hard for them to regulate their body temperature when the heat is scorching or when it’s humid because panting becomes less effective.
Luckily, you can aid your chicken in cooling them down by moving them to a shaded or cool area, providing lots of fresh water with electrolytes (if necessary), and installing fans in the coop.
It’d also help if you could provide them with dust baths, frozen treats, and misters.