Sometimes, no matter what you do, you will still end up with a chicken that gets heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke include lethargy, heavy panting and extreme body heat.
A chicken suffering from heat stroke will pant more than its flockmates, and will be lethargic. Lethargy is characterized by immobility and poor body posture, if the chicken can even stand. Usually they are laying down and seem almost listless. The body will feel very hot, much hotter than that of the other chickens. This is very dangerous, as the core body temperature can affect the function of organs and other body processes.
It’s critical and imperative that you take immediate measures to save your chicken at this point.
Bring your patient indoors and set up an emergency cooling henspital area.Your bathroom, laundry room or mudroom would be the ideal spot.
- Prepare a cooling bath using a dish tub specifically used for your chickens, in a used baby bath tub, or some other vessel for this purpose. Dunk some ice or an ice pack into the water to ensure the water is cool. Let your patient soak in the cool water for at least 5 minutes to bring down his or her core body temperature.
- Gently towel dry your patient and place him or her in a quiet comfortable corner with a fan blowing.
- Meanwhile, prepare some electrolytes in some water. You can purchase little electrolyte packets from your feed store and keep it in your emergency kit, or you can make your own. To make your own, all you need is to mix a little bit of raw honey with some water, and a tiny pinch of baking soda or sea salt. If your patient is not drinking by him/herself, you may need to administer the electrolyte water using a feeding syringe or an eyedropper.
- Prepare an overnight stay with healthy foods. Leave your patient in your home’s henspital at least overnight for observation, and provide some protein-rich snacks like grubs, and fruit like watermelon, cantaloupe, or berries. The protein will provide energy, and the fruits will be quenching with natural sugars and electrolytes. Be sure he/she is getting enough water. Try sprinkling the grubs into a dish of water so they’ll gobble up water while bobbing for their snacks.
Photographed by: @masterjing
Your little feathered patient may appear weak for at least 1 to 3 days. Continue to provide lots of TLC and shade, and maybe even continue to sequester your little feathered baby in the henspital until he/she protests and wants to get out. Protesting is a sign of improvement!
To prevent any future summer scares, check out our tips and tricks to manage heat stress for chickens.