4.6. Climate

Further reading

Try to avoid large changes in temperature, humidity and air quality inside the bird house as they are a challenge to the birds. This can be difficult to achieve in the laying house and may be more feasible in the rearing house. Sudden or extreme variations in the climate inside the house can be a source of stress to the birds. Discussions with experts within the industry indicate that (indoor) climate has a significant effect on bird growth and flock uniformity during rearing.
Ammonia fumes can affect the trachea and depress feed intake making birds more susceptible to disease (e.g. Infectious Bronchitis). Hens should not be subjected to concentrations of atmospheric ammonia above 25 ppm. The aim is to remain below 10-15 ppm. This should provide a good balance between environmental temperature and ammonia levels that the bird can live with. Wet litter areas have an increased ammonia emission, therefore it is important to keep the litter areas dry. Regular removal of the manure improves the air quality in the house.
Ensure that all ventilation fans are working properly and adjust ventilation rates according to external temperatures. Minimum ventilation to remove stale gases and moisture should be maintained even during periods of cold weather.
Verandas will help to reduce the contrast of any extremes in temperature and light between the outdoor range and the bird house.
Maintain a dry, well-drained range to avoid parasitic build up and birds drinking dirty water. This will also help to maintain dry litter in the house.


See also subsection ‘Light’ of the post Housing.


Daylight is thought to be important for laying hens, but the effects are not always conclusive. Daylight comprises the ultraviolet spectrum, unless it enters through a window (the glass filters out the UV). A preliminary study in The Netherlands indicated that a higher percentage of direct, unfiltered daylight reduced feather pecking.

Day light
Day light


Further reading





FeatherWel - improving feather cover AssureWel - improving feather cover
FeatherWel management guide [pdf, 5.49mb] AssureWel advice guide [pdf, 661kb]


Treatment of feather pecking (in Dutch) Prevention of feather pecking (in Dutch) Report Licht op Licht (Van Niekerk et al., 2015).
Noodmaatregelen tegen pikkerij [Treatment of FP]. Van Niekerk et al. 2013 (Report, 32 pp). Van kuiken tot kip [Prevention of FP]. Van Niekerk et al.2011 (Report, 32 pp).  Licht op licht [Light on light]. Van Niekert et al., 2015 (Report, 36 pp).


Feather pecking key (in Danish)
Fjerpilningsnøgle [Feather pecking key]. Johansen, N.F. 2013 (Report, 48 pp).


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