What is the Body Temperature of a Chicken?
The body temperature of a healthy full-feathered chicken ranges between 105 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit and averages at 106 degrees. However, it might go to 109 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if it’s a crossbreed.
Crossbred chickens usually eat more food than pure breeds, and they dissipate more heat due to the increased metabolism. As a result, such species are more vulnerable to heat stress than other chickens.
How Do Chickens Regulate Their Body Temperature?
A day-old chick behaves like a cold-blooded animal because it can’t regulate its body temperature. The young chicken mostly depends on the environment to maintain body temperature at the optimum levels.
The chick gradually morphs into a warm-blooded animal by optimizing food intake and regulating heat production. This transition takes three to four days, depending on the size of the chick and the age of its parents.
Small chicks take longer to gain the ability to regulate body try because of the large surface area to volume ratio. Likewise, chicks with younger parents (35 weeks or less) develop this ability two days later than chicks from older chickens.
Upon maturity, the high body temperature of chickens allows them to regulate temperature regardless of the prevailing season. During cold months, chickens increase their metabolic rate, keeping the bird warm and more active.
This explains why low environmental temperatures don’t affect chickens as much as heat. They’re likely to see winters through without any complications if you provide food, clean water, and a suitable living environment.
When it’s warm, the chicken gives off excess body heat into the air. The bird’s air sacs draw air into the body during inhalation. The bird releases body heat during exhalation if the ambient temperature is lower than its body temperature.
What Is the Normal Body Temperature for a Chicken?
As mentioned earlier, chickens have higher body temperature than human beings—a healthy chicken temperature averages at 106 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to a human’s 100.
However, the temperature varies a little, depending on stress leaven, the recency of the last meal, and the time of the day, as it does in people.
It’s worth noting that the average body temperature of brooding hens is lower than non-brooding hens. This allows for the optimal development of the chicks inside the eggs.
What Is the Normal Body Temperature for Baby Chicks?
Chicks have a slightly lower average body temperature than mature chickens. They average at 103 degrees Fahrenheit, mainly because they can regulate their body temperature. It might be higher or lower, depending on the environmental conditions.
How to Tell if a Chicken Has Fever?
Fever in chickens is usually a sign of illness. Its most apparent sign is increased body temperature and irritability. The chicken will appear uncomfortable, inactive, and tired. If it’s a layer, you might notice a drop in egg production.
Chickens with fever also like staying far from heat sources, such as light fixtures and heaters. They also don’t like crowding and prefer seclusion from the rest of the flock.
How to Check Temperature on a Chicken?
The most practical method of checking your chicks’ temperature is monitoring their body language. If they’re feeling cold, they’ll move closer to the heat source, crowd together, and produce shrill chirps. They can also develop sticky bottoms.
On the other hand, chicks with a fever move away from the heat source and may start panting. If high temperatures persist and raise their body temperatures above 117 degrees Fahrenheit, your young birds die.
A few days after hatching, the temperature will increase gradually until it stabilizes at 106 degrees Fahrenheit, the average temperature of a healthy chicken. This is after the chicks improve their metabolism to regulate body temperature. At this point, you need to remove the auxiliary heat source.
However, ambient temperature, the growth rate, and the number of birds you have are factors that you must consider before removing the heat source. You can remove the heater within three weeks after hatching during warm months. In winter, it can last for up to six weeks or until the chicks grow enough feathers to protect them against cold, whichever comes first.
For mature chicken, you can check body temperature using a digital thermometer. Insert the equipment about an inch into the rectal vent until the thermometer gives a constant reading. This is the most accurate method.
Alternatively, you can use an infrared ear thermometer. Here, you place the equipment against the featherless part of its face, but not on the comb or wattles. Skin temperature readings are usually three to four degrees low than actual body temperature.
Temperature readings aren’t helpful for disease diagnosis if you don’t know the average body temperature, depending on several factors. For example, roosters have higher core temperatures than hens.
Moreover, small breeds, active chickens, well-fed chickens, and roaming chickens have higher average temperatures than large breeds, resting chickens, malnutrition chickens, and restricted chickens. The environment also affects body temperature – birds record higher readings during the day and in summer than in the night and winter.
How to Keep Your Chicken Cool?
Unlike humans, chickens don’t have sweat glands, making them susceptible to hot conditions. Chickens native to hot areas have larger combs and wattles that help with heat loss by increasing blood circulation when it’s hot. Others adapt to high temperatures by having sparse feathers on the plumage and none on the legs.
If the ambient temperature goes above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, most birds don’t dissipate heat at a fast rate to keep their body temperature and the desired level. However, you can help the situation by observing the following measures.
- Increase water supply, and add electrolytes to the water to replace those depleted by the high temperatures.
- Provide fresh food by buying food more often but in small amounts.
- Increase ventilation and invest in fans.
- Avoid overcrowding by moving some birds to another coop.
As seen above, chickens can only maintain their body temperature at the right level if the ambient temperature allows them. If it gets too hot, they’re at a higher risk of dying from heat stress.
Fortunately, you can avert such losses by providing adequate water and ventilation and ensuring your birds aren’t overcrowded.