~ November 16, 2019 ~






If you know me at all, you will know I am a keen observer and recorder of the weather nearly every single day. I find that necessary to help me raise my farm animals successfully who live outside. Why? One of the biggest health factors for farm animals, is to be able to acclimate to their environment. We acclimate ourselves the more we are outside. Acclimatization is the process which any living being outside becomes accustomed to the changes in the temperature, humidity, and other changes in the environment. This helps facilitate maintaining normal living behavior. Regardless of the genetics from where a bird originated from, the acclimation is only within the current environment. Therefore, your flock will need personal attention to your own environment and it is not a one size fits all protocol. The general health and age of your birds are a big part of it, and we always strive to keep our flocks healthy, maintaining a healthy weight. Managing stress is always a best practice. Acclimation is generally an adjustment process, and there are different things that can be employed to make this a smooth transition.

TIMING

There are some basic facts about the timing it takes for your poultry to become acclimated to the weather. You might be surprised, but it is a relatively short period of time. Three days or much less, depending on the weather variance and exposure. The longer the exposure the quicker it happens. For example, since our flocks live outside all the time, it is going to happen very quickly, since they are exposed around the clock. If the weather is fluctuating in small degrees, the acclimation is pretty much immediate. Sometimes the gap is large, for example we may have a bird kept inside our house due to illness and now we want to to return it outside when it is well again, sometimes in much colder temps. If the variance is large, like 50 degrees or so it may take 48-72 hours, but there are things you can do, and your birds will naturally do to reduce that gap. It is a short enough period of time that it is totally manageable for a healthy bird.

FOOD

Food is not only one of the largest components of health (obviously), but also a tool in which your bird will manipulate for acclimation. They eat more food to generate internal warmth through digestion, or vice versa to cool off, as they will fast in really hot weather. Foods with protein, carbohydrates and fats will help boost the metabolism. Most commercial feed contains grain with fiber and I would use a high protein feed at least 18 percent, but 20 percent I think is even better. The most popular bird food with carbs is corn. Most corn is GMO, so that may be a consideration for you to use of not. For extra fat, you can offer herbal/suet in suet feeders. Or infuse herbs into oil and mix with wild birdseed. My blog has examples of how to do this.

HERBS

Herbs that stimulate circulation or digestion will help move the blood and stimulate the metabolism like Cayenne and Ginger. There are super nutritious herbs like Alfalfa and Stinging Nettle that also offers protein, along with vitamins and minerals that will create internal heat and the nutrition will help manage any stress. My blog lists herbal examples you can read up on.

SHELTER

Shelter is important since avoiding drafts is necessary if your bird needs to trap air against the body to form warm pockets of air to warm the skin. Birds also donít like to get wet and being in the rain can saturate the feathers and keep it from fluffing its feathers to stay warm. Keeping your flockís bodies dry is important.

WARMING STATION

I have constructed some warming stations in my pen, which is basically providing an external heat source. I use lamps with 100 watt halogen flood lamps and lamps secured so the birds can use the heat to warm up externally. There are other heating options besides lamps that are made for poultry use if using lamps make you uncomfortable. A bird experiencing those big gaps, may use this heat to even out the cold for a day or two, until they become acclimated. These stations do not heat my pen, merely providing a small area where they can gain some warmth.

As you can see, it is not really difficult to help your flock deal with environmental temperature fluctuations with ease, whether that happens with normal weather fluctuations or mechanically. Since the acclimation process happens so quickly, there is not much work to do for very long, to help your flock feel comfortable again in their home.

Original Source: Susan Burek 2019



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