Causes of stress in poultry

Like humans, birds experience emotional, psychological, and physical forms of stress with severe implications on productivity and health. Common causes of stress in poultry are broodiness, external attackers, routine activities performed on birds, traveling, and weather changes.

Usually, when birds are stressed, you will see symptoms such as cannibalism, restlessness, constant preening of the feathers, feather pecking leading to feather loss, and abnormal feathering.

Let’s begin discussing them one after the other.


Birds dread noise and disturbances that usually accompany movements. Therefore, your flock may suffer from stress as you travel or move with them on rough and bumpy roads.

A good practice to reduce stress in poultry when traveling is to ensure the birds are put in a well-ventilated, darkened box.

Changes in weather

Hot or cold weather is a particular stress trigger. When the weather is hot, most chickens try to compensate for the rising temperatures by drinking fresh water. On the other hand, cold weather can be stressful for birds with fewer feathers.

Settling into a new house

Birds know their coop! So, instantly changing the environment can be one of the causes of stress in poultry. The explanation goes for the case when new members are introduced to the existing flock. When bought into a new coop, birds need enough time to cope with their new home.


In their first season of maturity, birds tend to be stressed out. The egg production periods are associated with hormonal changes that strain chickens until they adapt to the new change.

Fox Attacks

A bird attacked by a fox will take some time before recovering. Fox attack causes severe damage to chickens, primarily due to the trauma it causes. The stress induced by fox attacks may lead to a reduction in egg production or even death.

Routine activities

Taking your birds to an agricultural show, they go through a lot of stressful processes. Toenails, beak trimming, and other routine activities related to special events like t are among poultry’s most common causes of stress. Similarly, some birds do not like being caught or washed. So, doing any of these might be stressful for them.

Final thoughts

As a poultry farmer, you need to know when your birds are stressed because stress directly links to the health and productivity of the flock. The good news is that recognizing stress in poultry is easy.

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