Sunday, June 18, 2017

Keeping Backyard Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat

It's hot in Texas. Really hot. Our high today was 99 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index set on broil. People are talking about baking cookies on the pavement. We are still in June, people. We still have to get through July and August. This just might be a long hot summer.

The heat can be especially dangerous for your backyard flock, but there are several ways you can help your chickens stay cool.

  1. Add ice to their water. I freeze a large block of ice and plop it into their water when the temperature starts to rise. Who doesn't like a nice, cool drink of ice water on a hot day? I know I do.
  2. My chickens love cold watermelon. Watermelon is great for keeping them hydrated in addition to  cooling them off. You can also feed them frozen corn, peas, or blueberries. But provide these as treats, not as replacements for their feed.
  3. Make sure their coop is well ventilated. If air is unable to freely circulate, the coop is going to be miserably hot. Add a fan for extra air flow, if needed. Just make sure the fan is properly secured so your chickens don't get hurt and make sure any electric cords are safely plugged in and away from any water or fire hazards. 
  4. Spray down a dirt patch where they can take a mud bath and cool off. I'm thinking I'm going to try this with my girls this week. 
  5. Make sure they have plenty of shade. My coop is under a tree and stays mostly shaded all day. I also free range my hens. On hot days they usually hide in the overgrown shrubs under the trees on the side of my house. 
  6. Provide electrolytes. Mix 1 cup of water with 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda. Provide 1 cup electrolytes to one gallon of water. If your hens appear stressed from the heat, give it to them full strength.
  7. Freeze bottles of water and place near nesting boxes. 
  8. Mist down the chicken coop or run. 
  9. Partially fill a small kiddie pool with cool water. You don't want to lose any chickens from drowning so only fill it about an inch or two. 
  10. Have several sources of water for drinking available. I have dog bowls and a large plastic dish tub I fill up and leave in several places so they have easy access to water.

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