Chickens are wonderful creatures. you don’t need to buy fancy food to feed them. They are similar to humans in many ways, yet humans often don’t treat them the way they deserve.
One of those similarities is a cooling method called panting to release water out of their body. You may see that they breathe heavily through their mouth, so it makes sense to wonder “why is my chicken panting?”
Why is my chicken panting?
Panting in chickens is normal since they need it to maintain their inner temperatures. By releasing water, your chicken’s body cools down when the weather reaches uncomfortably hot temperatures.
Panting is one of the signals that show the chickens need rehydration and electrolytes.
What is panting?
Panting is one of the cooling methods used by mammals, some reptiles, and most birds, and chickens are no exception. The main goal of panting is to make the water evaporate from the inside of the body to the outside.
This is a natural process occurring inside an animal’s body. The condition is its body temperature increasing, which leads to the respiration rate also increasing.
This results in water in the mouth, lungs, nasal passages, and air sacs (for chickens and birds in general) evaporating to create a cool environment.
Like some other types of evaporating cooling like sweating in humans, panting releases a large amount of water into the air, which dehydrates the body. The lost water needs to be replaced for efficient heat regulation.
Read more: Why do roosters crow at night?
Why should we keep the chickens hydrated?
You won’t spoil or pamper your chickens when growing and keeping them cool, hydrated, and comfortable. This is important especially for baby chickens since they can enjoy a good and healthy start in life.
In the case of fully-matured or egg-producing hens, a cool body can help them lay good and healthy eggs without risking their health.
So, you should get yourself some knowledge on preventing heatstroke or heat-inducing stress, as well as treating chickens that suffer from heat exhaustion.
When your baby chickens grow old enough to go around and play outside, try to pay close attention to them for any sign of heatstroke or stress. You might be surprised to find out how fast the signs show up on their bodies.
Panting is normal for chickens and baby chicks, just like mammals like dogs or cats. On a warm or hot day, that is the sign saying you need to provide them with water, but they won’t necessarily know their signs yet, so you need to take care of them.
What are the other signs of heat stress?
Pale wattles or combs
Those two body parts act as a bridge for a chicken’s skin to the air outside, so there is lots of heat that escapes from there. So try to keep those parts of your chickens cool so they can better regulate their temperatures.
When we respirate, we take away some of the ions that are essential for certain functions in our body. The panting process can do the same to your chickens as well. So try to get them some electrolyte solutions.
Stretched-out bodies and wings
A bunch of feathers on a chicken can trap potentially a lot of heat. So naturally, chickens would always try their best to get some airflow between their feathers.
Therefore, when the weather is hot, they will stretch out their bodies and wings to spread out the feathers and catch some airflows.
Low appetite and higher demand for water
Heat stress can cause your chickens do not want to eat more and instead want to drink more water. But, their nutrition needs remain the same, so try to provide them enough nutrients like protein, calcium, and more.
The extra water chickens drink will have to go somewhere. And if it can’t come out through the finish point, it will go out the starting point, which is their mouth.
Watery diarrhea is bad for chickens since it makes them lose even more water and electrolytes.
Sometimes we just don’t have the motivation to do anything while it is so hot since it drains our energy quite a lot.
The same goes for your chickens. They won’t want to do anything to conserve some energy that they have left. to
Egg production and egg quality decreases
The loss of water and electrolyte can lead to bad egg production and egg quality. The lack of calcium will result in soft eggshells, while a lack of water can cause egg production to decrease due to the egg taking up lots of water.
Seizure or disorientation
Water is essential for any animal. So you can expect lots of bad effects when water is lacking. If too much, your chickens can experience heatstroke, and you need to take action quickly.
The body fails and death
Even more lack of water will be fatal for your chickens. The extreme case will be your chickens dying of dehydration. It won’t be a pleasant experience.
However, heat stress and heatstroke can be easily prevented with some simple methods.
For example getting a better roof, planting grasses around the coop, installing some fans in the coop, or simply providing enough food and water inside the coop so they don’t have to go outside to get it.
When seeing your chickens breathe heavily through their beaks. It is normal. Panting shows that your chickens are losing water to get the desired temperatures.
Panting is essentially equivalent to sweating in humans. The body releases water vapor to regulate its own temperatures. With your chickens which can’t sweat, they release it through their beaks.
Image credits – Photo by Matt Connor on unsplash.com