Setting up temporary fans can help free-range layers cope with periods of high temperatures, such as those seen earlier in June when temperatures were in the 30s.

This was the key message from ADAS poultry and ventilation specialist Justin Emery at the recent Livestock Health South East seminar held at Sparsholt College, Hampshire.

The nest boxes are where you get heat-related deaths, not outside on the range. This is because there is no air movement in the nest box and so moisture accumulates over time in the air around the bird’s head.

Birds all pile into the box to lay an egg and have to pant harder to control their body temperature so you get mortality, he explained.

A cheap and cheerful option which works well in layer sheds is to set up fans and use them to blow air into the nest boxes and along the building. “Ideally, set fans at an angle so they cover a greater area.

“This air movement takes the humidity away from the bird’s head and disrupts the boundary layer. And there is a sense of wind chill, so the birds feel cooler,” said Mr Emery.