Optimizing Feeding Strategies for Poultry Summer Management

Optimizing Feeding Strategies for Poultry in Summer

poultry summer management

High ambient temperatures negatively affect all domestic animals, but the poultry industry faces more challenges than the dairy industry. In India, ambient temperatures remain high for 3–4 months during the summer, which affects the performance of poultry birds badly. Poultry farmers employ many management strategies, such as the use of foggers and sprinklers, the use of wet jute bags on roofs, ventilation changes, etc., to alleviate the unfavourable consequences of elevated temperatures. It is important to note that, in spite of these measures, poultry producers continue to lose money as a result of the intense heat of Indian summers. Maintaining poultry health and performance during high-temperature times requires a combination of appropriate management measures and nutritional adjustments. The purpose of this discussion is to address poultry summer management through dietary changes.

Understanding Heat Stress in Poultry Summer Management

Heat Stress is a condition where the bird’s body temperature rises due to high external temperatures, causing various physiological changes. Birds, unlike mammals, lack sweat glands, making it challenging for them to regulate their body temperature during hot weather.

Negative effects

  • Decreased feed intake
  • Reduced growth rate
  • Lower egg production
  • Increased susceptibility to diseases
  • Substantial economic losses

Therefore, managing heat stress effectively is a vital aspect of summer poultry management.

Summer & feed formulation

Feed formulation is crucial in poultry farming, as it affects the health, growth, and productivity of birds. Heat stress affects the gastrointestinal tract, leading to reduced weight, enzyme activity, and nutrient absorption surface area. To maintain birds’ health and productivity, feed formulation should focus on mitigating heat stress during summers, ensuring adequate nutrition for the birds.

Heat Stress During Summers

  1. Changes in feed form

    The feed type and quantity fed to poultry, particularly broilers, significantly impact their intake at high temperatures. Larger particle sizes are preferred to reduce feeding time and body heat production. Pellets can help mitigate the effects of high heat stress by reducing feeding time and energy consumption. Heat-stressed broilers fed wet mash have improved feed intake and efficiency. Mixing diets with water can increase body weight, dry matter intake, and carcass weight.

  2. Changing feeding methods

    Feeding of birds during the cooler periods and fasting during the hottest periods of day is beneficial to reduce the heat stress on the birds in summer. Also allowing some extra feeding space to the birds during these times will increase the feed intake which will compensate for the loss of nutrients during fasting at the hottest periods of the day.

  3. Modifying dietary protein/amino acids levels

    Heat stress limits protein synthesis and increases breakdown, making it crucial to balance feed with commercially available amino acids (methionine, lysine, and threonine etc.), energy, and protein-rich ingredients. A cost-effective solution is using a multi-protease enzyme to optimize amino acid levels without significantly altering the diet, reducing variability, protein wastage, litter ammonia, and stress. Amino acid arginine’s imbalance mostly happens during heat stress, so adding arginine-rich protein sources like soy and sunflower is beneficial.

  4. Maintaining energy & nutrient supply

    Poultry birds consume feed to fulfill their energy demands. High environmental temperature reduces their feed intake and so energy; hence it becomes important to increase the energy concentration without changing the levels of other nutritional components in the feed. As environmental temperature increases, fats are ideal for dietary ME due to their lower heat increment compared to carbohydrates and proteins. Supplementing fat in a poultry diet increases nutrient utilization in the gastrointestinal tract and energy value. A high-fat diet (up to 5%) can reduce heat production in heat stressed birds.

  5. Managing Dietary Electrolyte Balance (DEB)

    Dietary electrolyte balance (DEB) is crucial for poultry health and performance. It involves Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride, which maintain electrolyte balance in body fluids. Heat stress can disrupt DEB, leading to suppressed growth and impaired eggshell quality. Supplementing these elements with compounds like ammonium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and potassium sulphate can meet DEB requirements. However, dietary bicarbonate should be consumed during egg-shell formation for improved shell quality. Maintaining a proper ratio of Na+K-Cl with a DEB of 250 meq/Kg feed is optimal under normal and summer heat stress conditions.

  6. Inclusion of Other Additives: Vitamins & micro-minerals

    Heat stress in animals can be mitigated by adding vitamins, probiotics, and minerals like C, E, and D3, Choline, Betaine, and Manganese, Selenium, and Zinc to their diets. Incorporating immunomodulators, probiotics, enzymes, emulsifiers, and broad-spectrum toxin binders can also support animal well-being. However, it’s crucial to avoid additives like Nicarbazine and Monensin, which can exacerbate heat stress, and store additives in cooler conditions to maintain their effectiveness.


Formulating poultry feed for summer requires a careful understanding of the impact of heat stress on birds and their nutritional needs. By making necessary adjustments to the feed formulation, poultry farmers can ensure the health and productivity of their birds even during the hot summer months. Remember, each flock is unique, and what works best for one might not work for another. Therefore, it’s essential to monitor your birds closely and adjust their diet based on their specific needs and responses.
While this guide provides a comprehensive overview of formulating poultry feed for summer, it’s always best to consult with a poultry nutrition expert or a veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance.