Have you ever noticed your chickens panting? You’re not going crazy, chickens DO PANT much like a dog does! It might be quite funny to see a chicken pant like a dog, but what does it mean?
Why are my chickens panting?
Chickens can pant because of heat, stress, disease, parasites, and even respiratory issues…However, the most common reason why chickens pant has a very simple explanation, and it’s a natural response to the elements.
For the same reason a dog pants is why a chicken would pant. Because they are simply hot. Chickens don’t have sweat glands like us humans do…So, they must depend on other ways to cool down their body temperature when it gets too hot.
When a chicken pants she inhales cool air. Unneeded heat in the chicken’s body can then be used to change water into water vapor…The chicken will express this water vapor with an exhale. Which helps further break down the build up of heat in the body…
Please Note: The fact that they are converting water to create a cooling system means they will go through a lot of water. Having access to clean cool water is extremely critical in hot climates or on hot days. Without enough water on a hot day, it could cause a life threatening situation.
other reasons for chickens panting
Obstruction In Mouth Or Throat: It’s possible that something has been lodged in the mouth or throat while foraging…If you see something blocking the airway you can try to release it or take your chicken to a vet.
Chicken Panting At Night: If it’s hot they are most likely panting because they’re hot. If the chicken coop is dirty is could be that the air in the coop is making it difficult to breath. Another reason for this could be that there isn’t proper ventilation in the coop…Or the coop could be overcrowded and there is not enough air to breath and possibly poor air circulation…
Chicken Panting And It’s Not Hot Outside: If you scroll down this list, you will find a few diseases that might cause a chicken to pant even when it’s not hot outside.
Chicken Panting From Stress: Chickens get stressed easily. Whether by a predator attack, a sudden change in weather, feed, new flock members, a new house, etc…These girls and guys don’t really like change. They like routine. If their routine changes, which sometimes things must change, but if it does they may get a little stressed. This may show outwardly, by them panting, pecking (each other), and more. Treatment: Good treatments for stress can depend on the situation. Some good tips would be to add some neat things to do. Like add some fun chicken treats and boredom busters to help them alleviate pent up tensions.
Chicken Panting Then Dies: This could be caused by a heat stroke or an illness, like some of the diseases listed below. If any of your other chickens start showing the same signs, I suggest taking her to a vet to get a diagnosis and treatment if possible…
Chicken Panting While Laying An Egg: I believe it’s completely normal for chickens to pant while laying an egg. If a chicken is having issues with laying an egg, she will be in distress. They call this being “egg bound”. I haven’t written a blog post about this yet, however you can check out what The Chicken Chick says about it, she’s an amazing source of knowledge when it comes to chickens!
Baby Chicks Panting: See bronchitis below. Also, Note: A baby chick panting doesn’t automatically mean that he or she is sick. It could be that they are too hot. To understand how to keep chicks from overheating under a heat lamp, check out my post about “How Long Do Baby Chicks Need A Heat Lamp” and “How to Raise Baby Chicks“
Broody Hen Panting: A nesting box can get pretty warm. You could create a space just for your broody hens that is complete with food and water, since they rarely get up during this time. That may help keep her cool during the hottest hours of the day.
Older Chickens Panting: I’ve noticed that my older hens seem to pant and have more irritability with the heat than the younger girls. Just like us gals who are getting close or who have gone through menopause I’m sure we can relate…The older I get the less I can deal with the heat. I believe this is just a normal occurrence. You can help her by giving her some frozen treats to help her stay cool.
Gapeworm: These worms can live inside the tracheas of a chicken and cause them to stand with their mouth open. Typically, they will also cough, wheeze, and shake their head or make gurgling noises. They may also extend their neck which may help to relieve pain and discomfort. Diagnosis: A vet may be able to determine if your chickens have gapeworms by testing a fecal sample. Treatment: A vet can prescribe medicine that you can add to your chicken’s water to help kill gapeworms.
Laryngotracheitis (ILT): This is a viral respiratory disease. It presents itself similarly to gapeworms. Chickens typically breath through their mouths, extend their necks and gasp for air. Other symptoms may include: discharge from nasal passage ways, wet cough, and/or bloody mucus. Treatment: Vaccinations can help prevent this infection. However, there isn’t a specific treatment. Although, sometimes antibiotics may help reduce the infection.
Bronchitis: This infectious viral disease is found more prominently in baby chicks. If you see a baby chick breathing with it’s mouth open it could be caused by bronchitis. Diagnosis: A vet should be able to determine if the chick has bronchitis. Treatment: A vet may suggest antibiotics which may help control the infection. There are also vaccinations that can help prevent this disease.
Note: A baby chick panting doesn’t automatically mean that he or she is sick. It could be that they are too hot. To understand how to keep chicks from overheating under a heat lamp, check out my post about “How Long Do Baby Chicks Need A Heat Lamp” and “How to Raise Baby Chicks“
What other defences do chickens have against the heat?
Spreading Their Wings: Have you ever seen your chicken stand with their wings spread out. It may look a little uncomfortable…This is really just another way for them to allow the heat to escape.
In the winter, if you ever put your hand under their wing, you will notice enormous amounts of heat! It’s so warm. Chickens are capable of staying warm in very cold temperatures. Note that some breeds are more cold hardy and some more warm hardy…
A Shady Escape: You may also find them in the shade in the hottest hours of the day. Probably in the same area you’ll find all the Floridians, because the heat is no joke. We learn to stand in the shade here. It can be 10 degrees cooler in the shade which can make a huge difference. Plus, it can help guard you from the sun’s burning qualities.
Hydration Is Key: Another defence we all have against the heat is hydration! Hydration is key is battling the heat. For animals and humans alike! We have multiple waterers setup and they have to be filled a couple times a day. Having access to clean water can help ensure the health and safety for the birds on a hot day…
Is it okay for chickens to live in hot climates?
You may be asking yourself if chickens are okay to live in hot climates…The answer is YES! We live in Florida and we have many chickens and ducks here on the homestead…
According to the Cackle Hatchery, there are a few breeds they say are heat-hardy.
- Brown Leghorn
- White Leghorn
- Austra White
- RIR or Rhode Island Red
- Barred Rock
- Cinnamon (hybrid chicken)
- White Plymouth Rock
- New Hampshire
- Isabella Leghorn
We have super hot days here obviously…But the chickens know when to seek shade, when to pant, and when to spread their wings…Not to fly, but to shed some of that body heat!
Methods to Help keep chickens cool
Many chicken keepers all across the world have many awesome ideas to help keep chickens cool during the hottest days of the year.
I have a recipe for a frozen treat that is not only a great boredom buster but also a great cooling treat.
It’s called the frozen chicken treat. You basically freeze some of their favorite snacks in some water. I just use a cake pan to make them. It’s easy and they love it!
I’d love To Know what you think!… Leave me a comment!
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