This post was most recently updated on March 1st, 2020
It is important for you to find ways to keep your chickens cool during the hot summer temperatures due to a number of reasons. 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.
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The most obvious signs of an overheating bird include an open beak and wings that remain spread out throughout the day.
If you live in an area that experiences high summer temperatures that normally go beyond 32 celsius/90 fahrenheit, be sure to choose birds that do well in hot temperatures from the beginning.
When procuring the birds, it is best that you do so from a local supplier as they are most likely going to have breeds suited to local weather conditions.
Keeping Chickens Cool in the Summer
You can then use the tips below to cool them down when the heat gets out of hand!
1. Provide Shade
Providing your birds with a few shaded areas where they can escape the summer heat will help keep them cool. If you have free range chicken, 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 shade on their own.
Growing vines up the side of the hen 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 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 one watering point for your birds, consider adding more to make it easier for them to access the water.
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.
3. Use Ice
When it comes to keeping your birds 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 in the drinking water supplied to the birds to keep it cooler for longer.
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 bottles and bury them or pace them around the chicken coup so that the birds can step on them to cool down.
4. Feed Them Frozen Food
Another great way to keep your birds 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.
Avoid feeding your chickens foods that take a long time to digest, such as scratch and diced corn, and as they usually raise their temperature.
5. Use A Mister
Adding a mister into the mix can help cool down the temperatures in the surrounding area to comfortable levels as far as your chickens are concerned. The mister should be strategically placed in a shaded area for maximum effect.
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 spray nozzle at the end of a gardening hose might be all you need.
When misting your birds, be sure to avoid the baby chicks as this can chill them too much, too fast and cause death.
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 area, and keep your birds as comfortable as possible, it is recommended that you provide proper 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.
Make the most of cross breezes and through winds to keep the air moving naturally, or install a fan to help.
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 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. You can even use the warm summer weather to thoroughly clean out the chicken coup.
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.