If you live in an area that has hot summers it’s important to help keep your chickens cool! So in this article, I will cover my best tips for keeping chickens cool during those hot summer days!
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Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just give our backyard chickens an air conditioner in their coop!
While maybe that’s possible for some, I know our power bill would not be pretty…
So during the dreaded summer months, it is important to do all that we can to help keep our feathered friends stay cool. Chickens can survive colder weather much better than you’d imagine, but the heat will just wipe them out!
In fact, we’ve had summers with extreme heat come on so fast that I’ve lost chickens practically overnight.
Unfortunately, there will always be unexpected situations but when I have time to prepare for the heat I take all the measures I can to prevent my hens from heat exhaustion, and sometimes that’s all we can do.
Signs of Heat Stress
High temperatures, high humidity, and low amounts of airflow 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 production
- 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.
So below I will go over the tasks you can complete to help your hens stay cooler.
How to Keep Your Chickens Cool in Summer
While it’s impossible to control the weather, it is possible for us as chicken keepers to help keep our flock cool. So here are some great ideas and tips!
1.) Keep Their Water Cool
The chicken water can heat up super fast in the hot weather and so the first important thing you can do is provide cool and fresh water.
I have an automatic chicken waterer and so I spray it out every afternoon so it refills with cool water. Then when it’s really hot I give them an additional waterer that I fill with cool clean water each day.
Although sometimes it’s so hot outside the hose water never gets cool. So if that’s the case you can even add ice blocks into their water.
2.) Give Them Proper Ventilation
Chicken coop ventilation is important whether it’s hot or not. Of course in the wintertime, you don’t want cold drafts of air flowing through the coop but it is always important to have good ventilation for airflow and to prevent the smell of ammonia.
In the summertime, I prop open up the front door of my chicken coop and put a large sheet of horse paneling in the opening so a breeze can flow in.
But at least make sure you have open windows or two open doors so air can flow through.
3.) Provide Shade
Part of my chicken run has a roof over it and so my hens always have a shady area where they can hang out. But if you don’t have a covered area you could put up some shade cloth.
Or you could even start planting some trees around the chicken coop so they’d eventually have some natural shade as well!
4.) Give Them Plenty of Space
If you let your flock free-range this shouldn’t be an issue but if your chickens are locked up in a coop and chicken yard be sure that there is plenty of space to get away from each other.
We all know how fast body heat from others can warm us up and so the same goes for our chickens.
5.) Set Up a Fan
Another great way to help keep your chickens cool would be to set up a fan. A barn fan is a great option because they are able to be mounted to the wall or ceiling which is great because then your chickens won’t try roosting on it.
6.) Set Up Misters
If you decide to set up misters it’s a great way to quickly provide a cool place for chickens to cool off. Chickens love to fluff in wet dirt but I’d recommend still having an area they can move to get out of the misters as well.
7.) Spray Down the Chicken Yard
Every time I spray down the chicken yard with the water hose my chickens go crazy!
They love the cool dirt and immediately start fluffing in it. So whenever you head out to check on your chickens just quickly spray down the run area, they’ll love it!
8.) Put Frozen Water Bottles Out
Another tip is to put frozen water bottles around the coop where your chickens like to hang out. If they get close or lay on the frozen water bottles it will help bring down their body temperature.
9.) Feed Frozen Treats
If you really want to spoil your chickens you can freeze fresh fruit and feed it to them! Chickens love fruit no matter what but if it’s frozen it’ll be the perfect treat for hot days!
You could also blend up fresh fruit with some water and freeze it in ice cube trays.
10.) Lower Their Protein
The first important thing to note is that you still should feed a 16% layer feed so that your hens will keep laying. But you should cut out additional high-protein treats and scraps.
The more protein that is consumed, the more energy that is produced, which in return produces more heat.
11.) Add Electrolytes to Their Diet
The last thing you can do to help your chickens through the heat of summer is to add electrolytes to their water. One that I have used and like is the Rooster Booster Vitamins and Electrolytes. You can order it here from Tractor Supply.
Heat Tolerant Chicken Breeds
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
- Red Star
- 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 get the most attention during a heatwave.
How Chicken’s Naturally Cool Off
No matter which breeds you have, there are a few characteristics that both help and hurt chickens during 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.
Summary of Keeping Chickens Cool
Always providing your hens with clean and cool water is a must.
Ensuring that there is a shaded area for your hens is also extremely important.
It can also be very beneficial to have a small 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 you should spray down the chicken run a few times a day. After doing so the chickens will run to the puddles and begin cooling themselves down.
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!
For more posts related to chickens health check out:
- 3 Benefits of Using Diatomaceous Earth for Chickens
- 3 Reasons for Feeding Chickens Oyster Shells
- How to Make a Dust Bath for Chickens