It’s summer, and boy is it hot. There’s very little escape from the heat, which is breaking records worldwide. Now, we know you’re hot, but how about your chickens? Are they suffering? How do you keep chickens cool when the summer heat won’t let up?
Well, we have answers to all these questions in this quick and breezy post.
How to tell if your chickens are hot
Hot chickens will open their beak and breathe through their mouths, kind of like a dog panting when he’s too hot. They will also hold their wings outstretched, away from their bodies, to improve air flow. Hot chickens will eat less food throughout the day and may even cease laying eggs.
None of these signs are life threatening for a chicken, but it certainly means that they’re uncomfortable, and if you have the ability to help them cool down, you should do so.
Chickens can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which certainly can be life threatening if not treated immediately. A hen with heat stroke has very limited time to cool down before her organs start shutting down and she dies.
If your hen is suffering from these signs, get her help immediately:
- Laying down and unable to get up
- Panting heavily
- Eyes drooping, head drooping
- Seizures or staggered walk
A hen suffering from heat stroke needs to cool down quickly, get her into the house and into a cool (not cold) bath of water. You don’t want to shock her system so don’t put her in ice water, but holding her in cool water until her body temperature returns to normal will help.
The hen will need a lot of quiet time and TLC in a temperature controlled area. We recommend keeping her in the house overnight in a cage, and adding electrolytes to cool fresh water to help her replenish fluids.
How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer
1. Provide Plenty of Fresh, Cool Water
The most essential thing you can do to keep chickens cool in the summer is to give them a constant supply of cool, fresh water. When the temperatures rise above 85F, their water may need to be refreshed several times a day.
Imagine how nice it is for you to have a cold glass of ice water on a hot day, your chickens appreciate cool water as well! You can add ice to their water founts, or frozen berries in a bowl of water to encourage them to drink more water when it’s too hot.
2. Let Them Out to Free-Range
If your coop doesn’t have a run, or the run is in the sun, you should let your chickens out to free-range when the weather turns hot.
Chickens have plenty of natural ability to beat the heat, but it can be hard for them to do so when they’re locked up in a coop. Letting your chickens out to free-range will give them the opportunity to cool down as they know best. Chickens will dig a bit in the soil and sprawl out on the cool dirt to help bring their body temperature down. They’ll also find shady spots in the yard to lay.
3. Give Them a Spa Day
Turn the hose nozzle to the mist setting and set it up in a corner of the chicken run. The chickens may like to walk through the mist, and they may not. More importantly, this cools down the ambient air in the run by several degrees, and helps to keep your chickens cool.
If your hose makes a muddy patch in the corner of the run, all the better! Chickens love standing in cool muddy puddles when they’re hot.
4. Keep Chickens Cool and Feed Them Frozen Treats
As I’m sure you know, chickens just love treats, and especially appreciate them on a hot summer day. Feed your chickens treats from your fridge or freezer and they’ll be so happy!
Summer Treats for chickens:
- Frozen Corn
- Fresh Fruit- watermelon, grapes, berries, and bananas
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Plain Yogurt
5. Add Some Breeze to the Coop
If you have the option, open the windows or doors in the coop to get some much needed ventilation. If there’s no chance of opening the coop up, set up a fan to make an artificial breeze for your birds. Any way that you can get some air flow into the coop and chicken run will help keep your chickens cool.
We hope this quick little post is just what you needed to help keep your chickens cool this summer. If you have any other hot tips, or rather cool tips, for chilling out your chickens, make sure to leave them down in the comments, we’d love to hear them!