Heat can be lethal to chickens, so providing water, food and shelter that keeps them cool is essential.
Temperatures over 75 degrees cause stress to chicken’s bodies, with high humidity even more stressful. Added blood flow to their combs, wattles and skin as they try to cool off reduces its flow to vital organs.
Chickens have a difficult time cooling themselves off. Because they don’t sweat, chickens hold their wings away from their bodies to let air flow underneath. They also pant to keep cooler, but this increases their heart rate and can lead to a potentially fatal condition called Acidosis. Because heat escapes their bodies through their combs and wattles, large-combed breeds are more heat-tolerant.
If you live in an area that experiences heat and sun all summer, be prepared to take care of your flock with these simple tips:
Keeping water very cold and out of the sun is an easy way to keep chickens cooler. They will overheat before they will drink warm water, so keeping water dispensers full and cold is very important. Using smaller dishes that can be frequently replenished with ice and water along with larger tubs that can hold water and blocks of ice is recommended.
Cut up fresh fruit such as bananas, pineapples, watermelon, apples and strawberries and freeze it. Make sure to cut the fruit into small pieces and remove seeds and cores. Mixing frozen fruit with plain Greek yogurt is also a great summertime food option.
Don’t feed them diced corn or scratch when it’s really hot because these take a long time to digest and cause increased body temperatures.
Pens should have shade that extends beyond the coop itself. Placing tarps or umbrellas over the pen prevents the hot sun from reaching the chickens. Also consider buying pens that have built-in shaded areas. See selections at www.thatchickencoop.com.
Water Mister, Pool or Frozen Water Jugs
Add a misting attachment to a hose and hang it off the top of the pen. This can reduce the ground temperature by up to 15 degrees. Put water with ice in a baby pool during the hottest part of the day or freeze water in gallon milk jugs. Bury the jugs in the pen in favorite dusting places and cover them with small towels. The chickens can perch on the jugs to cool down.
To keep your chicken coop cool you need to provide ventilation. Having a window in the coop that can be kept at least partially open all night is great ventilation. If concerned about predators, place a steel window guard on the outside of the window. Run a fan in the coop on hot days to keep it cooler when the chickens go to roost at night. Keep only a thin layer of bedding on the floor of the coop. Too much bedding acts as an insulator and keeps heat inside.