Thermal Perches for Poultry

Chickens on poultry perches

Heat stress in both mechanically and naturally ventilated egg production facilities is a problem for the egg industry. Various means of providing supplemental cooling to hens in facilities are available, including tunnel ventilation and evaporative systems. Evaporative cooling efficiency can be seriously compromised by the challenge of providing cooled air to the birds when in cages and by the development of an axial building temperature gradient as heat loss by birds raises the air temperature. To address this challenge, alternative cooling approaches, including direct wetting of bird surface and cooled perch systems have been developed. The provision of a cooled perch in which chilled water is circulated through a conventional galvanized pipe passing through the laying hen cage offers the potential for improved performance during both acute and chronic heat stress events, is amenable to both natural and mechanically ventilated systems, and provides a positive welfare aspect by providing birds with a means to express their natural perching behavior. Challenges with the design and implementation of the system include capital cost and the lack of research data on bird production performance and behavior changes. Collaborating with Purdue University, this project developed a novel system for testing the feasibility of thermally cooled perches for laying hens. An experiment was conducted in the in the summer 2014, and will be continued in 2015.

Grant Information


Thermal Perches as Cooling Devices for Reducing Heat Stress in Caged Laying Hens. USDA NIFA AFRI. H.W. Cheng, P.Y. Hester, R.S. Gates, M.M. Makagon, W. Wigle, N.J. Olynk Widmar. 2013-2016. $499,814.


Paper Citations

Liedtke, E.A., P.Y. Hester, G. Vezzoli, R.S. Gates, S.A. Enneking, H.-W. Cheng and M.M. Makagaon. 2014. The effects of chilled perches on body surface temperature of laying hens exposed to an acute heat stress episode. Poster presented at Poultry Science meeting, July.

Makagon, M.M., P.Y. Hester, G. Vezzoli, R.S. Gates, S.A. Enneking and H.-W. Cheng. 2014. Access to cooling perches affects the behavioral responses of laying hens during acute heat stress. Poster presented at the AISAE, Spain.

Cheng, H.W.,  M. M. Makagon, R. S. Gates, J. Y. Hu, S. A. Enneking, and P. Y. Hester. 2014. The effect of thermally cooled perches installed in cages on White Leghorn hen performance. Poultry Sci. 93 (E-Suppl.1):92

Hester, P. Y., M. M. Makagon, R. S. Gates, J. Y. Hu, S. A. Enneking, and H.W. Cheng. 2014. The musculoskeletal health of caged White Leghorn hens with access to thermally cooled perches. Poultry Sci. 93 (E-Suppl.1):93

Gates, R.S., S.A. Enneking, Y. Xiong, P.Y. Hester, J.M. Makagon and H.W. Cheng. 2014. Design and performance of cooled perches for alternative egg laying production systems. Paper No. 141901235. ASABE and CSBE/SCGAB Annual International Meeting, Montreal. 13-16 July. St. Joseph, MI: ASABE.