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Heat Stress

During hot weather conditions poultry are susceptible to overheating. Since birds have natural high body temperatures (41°C/106°F) and no sweat glands, they reply on panting to release heat from their bodies, which takes longer and requires more energy than sweating. Emerging evidences have shown that acute heat exposure results in increased production of free radicals and causes oxidative damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA.

Eventually, without relief from the heat, birds will tire from heat exhaustion. An increased respiratory rate also has an affect on the amount of ionized calcium in their body. For female ducks, since they require a high amount of calcium for eggshell formation, it often results in the increased development of thin-shelled or smaller eggs and/or decreased egg production.

In order to help keep ducks comfortable during hot weather conditions, there are a few different management strategies and modifications that can be made to their environment to help keep them cool.

Always provide fresh, cool and clean water to all flock members
Position waterers in the shade, add ice, refill with cool water often, and check often.

Shade areas
There should be enough shade area, throughout all times of the day, for each member of the flock to go to in order to get out of the sun.
Good ventilation
Birds that are in poorly ventilated areas are at a heightened risk of heat stress as it blocks air flow.

Keep air moving
Provide fans and/or position the birds outside enclosure in such a way as to maximize wind exposure and good airflow. Alternatively, remove items that may be blocking air flow, such as trimming shrubs and trees, or relocating other structures to a different area.

Duck enclosure design
Duck enclosures should be designed in such a way to promote cooler temperatures through properly orientating the coop with respect to wind conditions specific to the site, incorporation of proper ventilation such as windows, airflow inlets and outlets, etc., be painted a light color so as to better reflect heat and be properly insulated.


Excessive panting
Continuously lifting wings up and down
Standing motionless for long periods of time
Abnormal behavior


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


MethodMethod Summary
Relocate ducks to a cool area
Dip their webbed feet into a cool bath slowly
Place small ice packs under their wings for up to 60 seconds then removed for a few minutes, and repeat.
Provide fans, misting sprinklers, ensure receiving adequate ventilation, do not overcrowd
Call veterinarian if the duck does not cool down.


  • Change out water buckets and kiddy pools frequently with cold water to help them cool off
  • Bring into air-conditioned barn during hottest hours
  • Provide plenty of shade



Risk Factors

  • High temperatures especially with high humidity
  • Poor ventilation or air flow
  • Living in tropical or subtropical regions