Does High Temperature Affect Egg Production?

“Hello Wendy, I have 5 hens that are all under 2 years of age and I used to get 3 or 4 eggs a day. Just recently only 2 eggs are being laid. I live in Queensland Australia and the weather is definitely warming up some days are 30 degrees Celsius and over. Does the temperature affect the cycle of the hens in relation to laying an egg each day? I am treating one of the Light Sussex hens for Bumblefoot and that has been going on for over 7 weeks and attending the vet each week. Would this type of stress reduce her laying?

I have had the hens since last December 08 so I am fairly new to caring for chooks. Also I just want to add that I love getting your newsletter each week and reading everything about other peoples chooks. Kind regards” ~ Maureen Cross

Hi Maureen, thanks for the question.

I’m happy to answer a question for those of you who are experiencing hot weather these days.

Periods of high temperatures will definitely adversely effect the production of your hens.

Around here, temperatures stay around or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (around 38 degrees Celsius) for up to three months in the summer. This is dry, air, almost absent of humidity.

Each year we know that egg production will drastically decline and that a heat induced molt is coming. The molt is not really from the heat but from the stress it places on our flock, so technically it is a stress induced molt.

By the time everyone has recovered and is fully feathered again, the temperatures are starting to cool, we get another month or two of great egg production and then they start dropping feathers again for a fall / winter molt – ugh!

Anyway, there are a few things you can do to help relieve the stress of high temperatures.

It is always best to select your breeds based upon their tolerance of your climate. Some breeds are more adaptable to cooler climates, others thrive in warmer climates. There are very few breeds that do well in extreme temperatures though, be they cold or hot.

Assuming that your breeds are suitable to your climate, make sure their hen house has good ventilation to allow for cross breezes. A hot hen house is not the place your girls will want to spend time to lay eggs.

Make sure the hen house is cleaned regularly so that the ammonia content doesn’t get too high, which is more likely to happen with higher outside temperatures. This is bad for the chicken’s health and they will avoid going inside for this reason as well.

Make sure your girls have access to shade at all times.

There must always, and I mean ALWAYS, be a supply of fresh, cool water. Water is more important to the health of your chickens than even food. It becomes even more critical when the temperatures rise.

A shortage of food is always stressful on a chicken, they need more feed in the winter just to maintain their health. They will not eat as much in the summer but they must have an adequate rations.

I’m not suggesting that this is necessary in your climate but we have even gone so far as to make a “misting system” to help keep everyone cooler and to provide humidity for our chickens. It runs around the outside of their run and they seem to really enjoy it.

Despite this though, they still start dropping feathers as the temperatures rise.

We definitely live in an extreme climate during the summer months and there’s not much we can do about it. We just try to keep them as comfortable as possible, make sure they have adequate feed, water, shade and ventilation, there’s really not much more we can do.

Any stressful situation will cause a decline in egg production and this brings me to your second point Maureen; regularly being removed from home to visit the veterinarian will fall under the category of stressful. It’s necessary but stressful nonetheless.

You’ll just have to hang in there until the treatment is complete before you can expect full production from your Light Sussex. In the mean time, make everyone as comfortable as possible.

Thanks again for the question.

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