Swinging Temperatures Means Changing Comfort Needs

Livestock does best when they are comfortable and healthy. An animal satisfies its most basic needs first, which means that to grow, they need to breathe, eat, and rest with ease.

Turkeys are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively at younger ages. As they grow, they are better able to withstand and excel in changing temperatures. Even though it is challenging to keep birds comfortable when the temperature swings 30 degrees or more from daytime to nighttime, the most important thing is temperature stability. During the fall and spring, keep the birds comfortable at night with warmer temperatures, depending on their age.

A good run of thumb for birds five weeks of age is that they can survive a 4-degree temperature swing. As they age, that temperature swing increases and you can add one degree of swing for each week of age. For example, if the temperature is 75 degrees, and the set temp is 66 degrees, an 8-week-old bird will feel cold at night. In this instance, the set temp should have been 68 degrees- to maintain the 7-degrees or less of temperature swing. If the birds get sick, keep them from huddling.  If they are healthy, this is a good range of temperature to manage the flock.

In addition to temperature regulation, your fans must be in working order and able to move the appropriate cubic feet per minute (CFM) based on the birds’ weight and comfort. Your veterinarian can help you with computing the required CFM and ensuring that you have the appropriate fan capacity.

Misters/sprinklers are also a great tool for keeping birds comfortable. Even in the spring, when the temperatures mimic summer, producers can use misters/sprinklers. Yet they should be used sparingly, as no matter how little we use them, the floor gets wet, and that can create other health issues. Also, once the litter is wet, it can generate heat via the decomposition. We should remember that wet litter contributes to ammonia, footpad lesions, and increased risks of dermatitis.

If possible, use sprinklers on a timer to limit the amount of water while keeping the birds cool. Timer settings can be determined by observing how long it takes to soak the birds and how long it takes them to dry.

While using ventilation and heat control to keep your birds comfortable can seem expensive, those extra moments at the feeder add up to dividends at the end of the flock.