Luke Barnard, Cargill technical poultry application specialist


In 2024, a prolonged dull, wet and colder spring switched fairly quickly into warmer, drier conditions in many parts of the UK.

And in late June, temperatures increased by as much as 10C within 48 hours in some areas.

This creates different challenges when it comes to managing the poultry-house environment, and erratic weather patterns, with some extremes at times, push the system to its limits and show up weaknesses that can manifest in bird performance.

There is no typicalblueprintto follow to prevent this, and each year bears little resemblance to the previous one.

Unpredictable climate

Chicken drinking

While the UK climate has always been variable, recent years have been increasingly unpredictable.

So poultry producers need to be on their toes when it comes to managing the climate inside the house.

Nutrition plays a big part in successful poultry performance, and different feeding regimens can be applied to maintain productive performance during hot weather.

This can typically involve changing the nutrient density of the feed, but this approach has a limitation: It requires reformulation, which has a price tag and a time lag attached to it.

Furthermore, birds suffering from the effects of hot weather will reduce their feed intake, which is nature’s way of reducing the heat increment of the feed—the heat generated from the digestion and metabolism of protein.

So even if a higher nutrient-density feed can be rolled out quickly, there’s no guarantee it will solve the problem and help birds navigate the challenge.

Keep on drinking

Birds will still drink and probably increase their water consumption as temperatures rise.

So thegolden ticketwhen it comes to mitigating heat stress in birds is to use a solution that’s added to the water supply.

This can counter the effects of heat stress and provide a rapid response during a period of heat challenge.

Cargill has developed the poultry cooling product AviCool® as part of its SolviTec® range.

It includes a blend of salts and electrolytes to stimulate water intake and keep birds hydrated.

The betaine ingredient helps to regulate osmotic pressure and a naturally occurring antioxidant in the product will protect the cells from oxidative stress and damage.

Cooling from inside

The components that make up AviCool® support conditions inside the bird.

Betaine is a natural osmolyte that helps to keep water inside the cells. This is particularly important in times of heat stress where the bird is using water to cool itself down.

Antioxidants included in the AviCool ingredients have been shown to help protect cells under stress, reducing free-radical production and preventing cell death.

Finally, the electrolyte component in the product can promote water intake and optimise hydration for birds.

This approach has been demonstrated to prevent losses from reduced productive performance for poultry, as well as helping to maintain the welfare of birds during challenging times.

Heat management high priority

While building management can help to maintain optimum temperatures and humidity in poultry units, combatting the effects of hotter weather and the consequences of dehydration shouldn’t be ignored and should be a high priority for producers.

Producers should beat the readyand run a product like AviCool® through the drinking water system as soon as temperatures spike.

This should be maintained for between three and five days when birds are being challenged by high temperatures and when dehydration is a risk.

This is even more crucial in the later stages of the production cycle.

For more information on AviCool® visit the Solvitec Website, or call Luke Barnard on 07818 004355.