Beat the Heat!
Keeping your chickens cool in summer
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Beat the Heat! Keeping Your Chickens Cool In The Summer
Every year the summer feels longer and hotter. We hide indoors, with the air conditioner blasting, drinking ice water and wait for the sun to go down. We tell ourselves we’re moving to a colder state. We manage it until winter comes. But what about our animals? What about the most delicate of our animals, our birds? How do chickens beat the summer heat, and what can we do as chicken keepers to help them get through it as comfortably as possible? Here are a few tips and tricks.
How To Keep Chickens Cool
Chickens Don’t Sweat!
Chickens cannot sweat to cool themselves off. Instead, they pant, or breathe rapidly. They also hold their wings slightly out from their body, allowing air to flow through. In high temperatures, this is not enough to keep them cool. In extreme temperatures, your chickens are in danger of heatstroke.
Provide Shade to Escape from the Sun
If your birds are free-ranging around the yard, they stand a good chance of finding a bush or a tree to hide under. They may even seek refuge under a parked car or on your patio!
If your chickens are housed in an enclosed run, it is essential that you provide them with shade. Know the position of the sun throughout the day, and put up a barrier to block its rays during the hottest parts of the day. If your birds cannot get out of the sun, they do not stand a chance.
Keep the Air Moving
Setting up a fan in the coop or run will help your chickens significantly. It will cool the surrounding air and reduce humidity. This is a particularly helpful strategy for chickens that are housed in enclosed coops and runs, as a natural breeze may not always reach them. Also, be sure you only provide a very thin layer of bedding in warmer weather. Having too much bedding inside your coop during the summer will serve as an insulator and keep heat inside the coop.
Easy Access to Cool Water
Where do your chickens hang out during the day? Make sure there is water nearby, so they don’t have to go far to reach it. Put out additional water sources. Make sure the water is not in direct sun, so that it heats throughout the day. Keep it in the shade to keep it cool. Not only do you want to make sure your chickens have drinking water, consider putting out a kiddie pool, or making a little mud and wet sand. As the water evaporates off your chickens, it acts as sweat does on our bodies, and carries heat away. They may enjoy walking through a cool puddle to cool their feet off, and a nice mist can cool surrounding air temperatures by up to 20 degrees.
If you live in an aread where hot weather is a regular occurance, setting up a mister system is a great way to help keep your chickens cool. Alternatively, you could use lawn sprinklers or a garden hose to spray down the ground and cool things off.
Give them Ice & Frozen Treats
Put out frozen gallon jugs, blocks of ice, or toss a bunch of ice cubes into a feed pan. You can even add ice to water dishes throughout the day to keep it cool. Chickens can drink the ice water as it melts, or place themselves close to it to stay cool.
Frozen watermelon makes the perfect summer treat for your chickens. Its wet, mushy, cold, and tasty! They’ll enjoy eating it, and they’ll get a hydration boost from the melon’s high water content. Don’t over do it and feed them too much, or you might start seeing pink droppings everywhere!
If Your Chicken is in Distress – ACT FAST!
If you see a chicken panting excessively, looking pale and lethargic, you must act quickly. Immediately take your bird and submerge it up to its neck in a cool water bath. Their body temperature must be reduced as quickly as possible and this could be a life saving measure. Consider bringing your vulnerable chickens indoors. Spending the afternoon in a dog crate in the air conditioning may not seem like their ideal day, but it is much more comfortable than the heat outdoors.
Want to learn more – check out our Poultry Care Corner!