If you live in an area where you have a hot summer then you’re likely wondering how to keep your chickens cool. Unfortunately, just like us, it’s a whole lot easier to get warmer than to get cool, but there are some tasks you can do to help your flock stay cool in the summer heat!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just give our backyard chickens an air conditioned chicken coop! While maybe that’s possible for some, I know our power bill would not be pretty haha!
So during the dreaded summer months it is important to do all that you can to keep your hens cool. Chickens can survive colder weather better than you’d imagine, but the heat will just wipe them out!
In fact, our summer came so fast and I had 3 chickens die within a 2 week span. And while I’d like to say I could have prevented it, I don’t think I could have.
We had an amazing spring with 50-70 degree days and practically over night it jumped to 100 degrees.
So in this case my poor hens had no time to acclimate which was obviously too much for them to handle.
But I did take measures to prevent my hens from heat exhaustion and sometimes that’s all we can do.
Signs of Heat Stress
First thing you should know is how to spot the signs of heat stress, most of which are pretty easy to see. High temperatures, high humidity, and low amounts of air flow can all lead to heat stress so if any of these conditions are present be sure to check on your hens.
The signs to keep an eye out for are:
- Pale combs and wattles
- Lifting wings away from their body
- Decrease or stop in egg laying
- Thin or soft shelled eggs
Each of these signs can be a result of heat exhaustion and you should act quickly to help your hens cool off. If weather conditions don’t improve and your chickens get too stressed it can quickly result in a heat stroke.
Below I will go over the tasks you can complete to help your hens stay cooler.
Background Information on Chickens Bodies
Chickens have a few characteristics that both help them and hurt them in hot weather.
First, they do not sweat which makes it harder for them to bring down their body temperature.
Second, they pant which allows them to cool their internal temperature. Although, excessive panting uses lots of energy and depletes their nutrients.
Third, their body contains multiple air sacs so they are able to breathe in cool air and exhale hot air.
Fourth, they will raise their wings to expose their skin to airflow.
Chicken Breeds That Tolerate Heat Better
Overall, the majority of chicken breeds will survive better in colder weather as compared to the heat.
But there are breeds that can survive a hot day more easily and a few of those breeds include:
- Easter Egger
- White Crested Black Polish
While these breeds are bred to tolerate heat better than others, older chickens, heavy breeds, and broilers are the most susceptible to heat stress and should given the most attention during the heat.
Tasks to Complete in Order to Keep Your Chickens Cool
While it’s impossible to control the weather and avoid drastic temperature changes like what I experienced this year, it is possible to do a few tasks to help out your hot hens.
- Keep clean cool water for them.
- Provide lots of shade and good ventilation.
- Have a larger coop with plenty of room for your hens to get away from each other.
- Put up fans and misters.
- Spray down the chicken run so there are small puddles for them to lay in, or provide shallow pans of water.
- Add ice cubes into their water.
- Put frozen water bottles around the coop and chicken run where hens hangout.
- Feed them frozen treats such as watermelon and berries.
- Make sure they have a dust bath area.
- Cut down on high protein feeds but remain with at least a 16% protein feed for them to continue laying.
- Add electrolytes to their diet such as Rooster Booster Vitamins and Electrolytes (amazon).
Always providing your hens with clean and cool water is a must. I have an automatic water for my chickens and I empty it at least once a day during the summer. Plus I put an extra water out for them that I fill with fresh cold water every day.
Ensuring that there is shade for your hens is also extremely important. There is shade for them inside the coop but it is often much warmer inside so be sure that there is shade in the chicken run.
I also like to have a fan inside that points towards the nesting boxes so the hens that are laying have good airflow. You can also have a fan outside in the chicken run.
Chickens also love the water on a hot day and so I spray down the chicken run a few times a day. After doing so the chickens run to the puddles and begin cooling themselves down.
Another thing you can try is taking frozen bottles of water and lay them around the areas where your hens like to hangout. If they lay on them or beside them, it will help cool their bodies.
Overall, summer is just tough! So try to implement as many of these hacks as possible to give your hens the best chance at surviving the summer heat!
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