Originally Posted by MOChickenShoes
someone had asked this in a different thread and never really got an answer, so since you guys are on the subject:
is there such a thing as "too much" panting in the heat? i'm new to chickens, and sometimes here on BYC and some other things i've read, panting is listed as a sign that chickens are "heat stressed". the common sense part of me says that chicken panting is comparable to a dog panting, just a way for the animal to combat the heat and not a sign of imminent doom. here in MO, as in most of the US it seems, we've already been hitting triple digits, with highs all this week from 96-101 my 10-11 week old pullets seem to go in panting mode when it gets to around 93-94 degrees. i assume this is normal? they act pretty much normal other than that, seem to be eating ok etc. i have a raised coop, so they have nothing but shade underneath which is where they typically hang out despite it feeling cooler in the coop to me (i don't have a thermometer inside or outside the coop). i also have a small pen attached to that with a tarp layed over the top of that for additional shade. water is available both underneath and inside the coop. i've also thrown in watermelon (both frozen and thawed) occasionally, which they seemed to enjoy. yesterday i set up a bit of a mist for them to use if they wanted, but they didn't even approach it for the 3 hours i had it running. i haven't dragged a fan out there yet, mostly because i feel like it really shouldn't be necessary. i'm rambling, apologies. bottom line question- is panting really a cause for concern? should i be taking whatever steps i can to get them to stop panting, or is it perfectly normal for them to do so? (again, common sense is telling me it's fine, but being new to chickens i just want to be sure i'm not allowing too much "stress" to my small flock).
edited to add, i have BR's, RIR's, and 1 BO, if that should make any impact on an answer. they all seem to pant at about the same temp.
They are fine and your common sense is in perfect order! Panting is normal when it's hot and you can't sweat(like dogs or chickens), the excess humidity in the body is released in this manner. You'll also see them holding their wings a little distance away from their body...these birds know what to do in the heat. Providing hydration and shade are all that is necessary on our part. I put a fan in my coop once because I was hot one sizzling summer...not a chicken stayed inside to enjoy it. End of that little experiment.
For all you newbies with the same questions~guess what? Natural stress is a normal occurrence in the natural world, for both man or beast. If you raise a flock in such a way that they never have to encounter any stress due to climate or environment, you will have a flock that cannot withstand any stress.....and stress is inevitable. One cannot control all the environment around their animals unless they put them into a climate controlled bubble.
Chickens, dogs, cats, etc.....they're tougher than we all want to believe. We want to believe they NEED us to care for their every little discomfort when they quite simply do not. They either get tough or they die but babying them around won't serve them~ or you~ in the long run. Unless you really, really want the stress of a flock, dog, cat, pet that simply MUST have constant tweaking and attention and this makes you feel fulfilled as a human being. If you don't, let nature weed out the crybabies and wimpy-doos and you will be left with animals that are worthy of your time and effort. Strong, productive and with some longevity of life. Just my $.05...inflation, you know.