Like every summer, at least in the Northern Hemisphere when heat waves start making us feel uncomfortable, I start receiving questions about adding additives in feeds to combat heat stress.

First, let me say that when the next heat wave is tomorrow, it is a bit late to do pretty much anything. Everything needs time — even to purchase some vitamin C for water application for broilers requires a day or two, assuming the facilities are there to handle this.

Then, in my experience, feed additives — and they are but a handful that really work in the summer against thermal stress — should be the last thing to worry about. Not that we should forget about them, but there are other aspects we must ensure are in place first.

Have your nutritionist prepare a set of diets specific for the summer.

I will let others discuss the need of having the right parameters set up in your ventilation system to handle the extra load, and the same goes for facilities in general. If you grow broilers in a region where it gets really hot, you should hire local experts to ensure your buildings and facilities are on par with local requirements and not those of the original manufacturers, some of which might consider summer any day with sunshine.

In terms of nutrition, you should have your nutritionist prepare a set of diets specific for the summer. This person, already versed in handling animal nutrition under extreme heat pressure conditions, will adjust nutrients and ingredients before summer comes and have everything in place. A light diet is what is recommended for humans during heat waves, and something similar (but not the same) is possible for animals.

Then, we will discuss which additives can further make our animals feel more comfortable.