With UK temperatures on the rise, farmers are being urged to check the temperature of their broiler and dairy sheds to avoid a loss of production.
The warning has come amid a spike in reports of high temperatures in dairy sheds and broilers across the UK, due in part to outdated or faulty ventilation equipment.
Duncan Burl, of ventilation and heating specialist Hydor, said: “The soaring temperatures, we’re currently experiencing can prove a challenge to livestock.
Overheating in both chickens and cows has been linked to a loss of productivity and, in extreme cases, death.
“We’ve already seen a significant number of calls come in from farmers looking to upgrade their ventilation systems in light of the extreme heat seen in June and early July.
“Productivity can decline at temperatures from 25°C upwards in the average cow and even lower in high yielding animals, so it’s essential that careful monitoring of heat levels takes place regularly during the hotter months.”
For chickens, an increase in body temperature of just 4°C can result in fatalities, with birds requiring approximately five days to acclimatise to high temperatures, according DEFRA.
For dairy cows body temperatures of 42°C and above can prove fatal, and the effects on production can be noted from an atmospheric temperature of just 25°C.
Mr Burl continues: “Effective ventilation has been identified, as key to mitigating extreme heat in cows and chickens by both DEFRA and a number of in-depth studies.
“Out-dated, or underperforming equipment can have a significant impact on effectiveness, so it’s integral that ventilation systems are operating at their optimum performance at this time of year.”
To help identify the beginnings of heat stress in both cows and chickens, Hydor has outlined some of the key warning signs.
• Increased water consumption, in extreme cases cows can drink in excess of 50 per cent more than their usual intake
• Excessive panting or drooling, used to increase subcutaneous blood flow
• Reduced food intake to lessen the impact of metabolic processes
• Avoidance of other birds
• Raised wings, used to increase the exposure of skin
• Panting, which increases as the heat rises
• Reduced feed intake
• Increased water consumption