This post was most recently updated on August 22nd, 2021
It is important for you to find ways to keep your chickens cool during the hot summer temperatures due to a number of reasons. Here are my top tips on how to keep chickens cool in Summer.
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Why should you keep your chickens cool?
First and foremost, high temperatures, 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32Celcius) and above, usually lead to a significant dip in egg production; as the heat stresses the birds.
In severe cases, high summer temperatures can even cause death in chickens.
Signs and symptoms of heat stress in chickens
The most obvious signs of an overheating bird include an open beak and wings that remain spread out throughout the day.
They will drink a lot, act lethargic, and lay less. Some even stop laying all together.
Extreme heat can cause acute organ failure and death. Heat exhaustion is not common in chickens, but can happen in a particularly hot summer or heat wave even if your chickens are adapted to your local climate.
If you live in an area that experiences high summer temperatures that normally go beyond 32 celsius/90 fahrenheit, be sure to choose a backyard flock that does well in hot temperatures.
When you buy your chickens, it is best that you do so from a local supplier as they are most likely going to have breeds suited to local hot weather conditions.
Keeping Chickens Cool in the Summer
You can use the tips below to cool your backyard chickens down when the heat gets out of hand!
1. Provide Shade
Providing your birds with a few shaded areas within your chicken run, where they can escape the summer heat will help keep them cool.
Parking a chicken tractor under the shade of a large tree is a great solution if you can manage it.
If you have free range chickens, you will notice that they love to seek out shade on their own, congregating under the shade of trees, vehicles and building structures.
However, if your chickens are confined to a run, then you might need to put up a shade or two as they cannot seek out a shady spot on their own. A few tarpaulins or some shade cloth strung across the corners of the run can work in a pinch.
You will need to ensure that there is enough space in the shade for all of your chickens to be able to spread out and not have to snuggle up against each other to fit within the shadow.
Growing vines up the side of the chicken coop might work well for you, heavy feeders like passionfruit will enjoy the extra nutrients from the chicken coop run off!
2. Give Your Birds Lots And Lots Of Cool Water
In hot summer weather, dehydration becomes a real problem for chickens. You can prevent this, and keep them cool by providing them with a constant supply of cool, clean water.
If you normally have just one waterer for your birds, consider adding more to make it easier for them to access the water. More chickens can drink from an open pan than from a nipple waterer, so add additional water dishes when it gets hot out.
Since temperatures soar around midday, it is recommended that you switch out the water that has been sitting out in the sun a number of times, as it is bound to warm up and replace it with fresh, cool water.
A kiddie pool filled with water will be drunk from when it is clean, and it isn’t unusual for a very hot chicken to hop in for a cool bath on a hot day.
3. Use Ice
When it comes to keeping your hot chickens cool during the sweltering summer heat, ice is definitely your friend. You can use ice to keep your birds cool in a number of different ways.
First and foremost, you can pour some ice cubes in the drinking water supplied to the birds to keep it cooler for longer, making your tepid water into cold water in one easy step.
You can also use soda bottles, for instance, filled with frozen ice to keep the birds cool. Just fill the bottles with water, and then place them in a freezer for a couple of hours. Remove the frozen water bottle and place them around the chicken coup so that the birds can step on them or lean up against them to cool down.
4. Feed Them Frozen Food
Another great way to keep your hens cool in hot summer weather is by feeding them frozen food. If you feed your chickens fruits, freeze them before feeding them to the birds.
Some of the fruits you can serve frozen include watermelons, cantaloupes, strawberries and Greek yoghurt with some frozen fruit in it.
Frozen watermelon makes a particularly favorite frozen treat!
Avoid feeding your chickens foods that take a long time to digest, such as chicken scratch and or whole dried corn, and as they usually raise their internal body temperature as they digest them.
5. Use A Mister
Adding a mister into the chicken coop or run can help cool down the temperatures in the surrounding area to comfortable levels.
The mister should be strategically placed in a shaded area for maximum effect and set to go off frequently.
If you can afford it, buy a complete misting system. However, if you don’t have the enough to invest in a complete system, adding a misting spray nozzle at the end of a garden hose might be all you need.
When misting your chickens, be sure to avoid the baby chicks as this can chill them too much, too fast, and can cause death. Once they have their feathers (rather than just their downy fluff) they will cope fine with a misting set up.
6. Provide Proper Ventilation
Housing your birds in an enclosed, poorly ventilated space can lead to a greenhouse effect that exposes them to higher temperatures for extended periods.
To cool the coop area, and keep your birds as comfortable as possible, it is recommended that you provide plenty of ventilation. This will help push warm air out as it is replaced by cooler air from outside.
You can install a window that can be left open during the day, and closed during the night. Remember to add the necessary safety features, such as steel window guards, to keep predators away.
Have the opening windows on the shaded side of the house to let in the coolest air. Make the most of cross breezes and through winds to keep the air moving naturally, or install a fan to help move the air through.
7. Avoid Using Deep Litter
On top of providing the necessary level of ventilation, it is recommended that you minimize the layer of litter used.
Usually I am a big fan of the deep litter system, but in really hot climates, it might not be so great in the heat of the Summer.
The litter used in your chicken coup has an insulating effect, usually the ground is nice and cool for the hens to lay on, but not if it is covered in a foot of bedding. The decomposing litter also produces heat, increasing the temperatures within the coup, as it decomposes.
To keep temperatures as low as possible, consider cleaning out the coup without the use of litter, where possible. Sand is a viable alternative for covering the floor of the coop in hot areas.
In addition to the above tips, you can also consider adding a small mud bath somewhere within the space so that the birds can walk over it to cool down. Chickens naturally don’t like walking in water; however, they will love a mud bath!
As you can see from the above listed tips, keeping your chickens cool during the hot summer weather is quite straightforward and doable.
With these tips in practice you can enjoy normal egg production, in addition to keeping your birds in the best physical condition possible.