Summer is an exciting time for your chickens, they likely have more freedom than the winter months and enjoy exploring in the warmer weather. But it can also be a time where vigilance is key as a chicken owner. The extreme temps can take a toll quickly on your feathered friends, so taking proper heat precautions is extremely important. Here are a few tips to make sure your chickens have a comfortable summer.
Signs of Heatstroke
- Lethargic and not actively moving around.
- Open beaks with wings spread out. The birds look similar to a dog that is panting.
- Little or no intake of food and water.
- Make sure your chickens always have fresh and clean water. It is a good idea to give fresh water at least every 24 hours. Stagnant and dirty water attracts mosquitos and acts as a petri dish for holding diseases. Old and lukewarm water will not be appealing to your birds and it will cause them to stop drinking, which can lead to lower egg production, forced molt, dehydration and possibly death.
- It is a good idea to put ice in your watering system. Chickens may stop consuming water if the temperature of the water rises above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Have your coop in an area that is covered and protects the flock from the sun.
- Make sure the coop has several open windows that allow air to flow through the structure. Windows can be added to the coop by cutting holes in the sides of the structure and covering the holes with hardware cloth. The hardware cloth should keep predators out of the coop, but it will allow more air circulation and ventilation for the birds.
- Consider letting your flock free range in the summer. Free range chickens can have more opportunities to find shade and cool off in dust bathing areas. There are certainly risks involved in letting your chickens free range, but it can be a great option for keeping them cool in the summer time.
- Melons and squash are great treats for the summer.
- Chickens love watermelon as a treat and it naturally increases water intake, since watermelon is about 91% water.
AC for the Flock
- You can freeze gallon jugs of water and place them in and around your coop. The jugs of water can lower the temperature in the coop and perform as a makeshift air conditioner.
- A small baby pool gives chickens the option to cool off in the summer time. (You only need to fill the pool with a few inches of water).
- Purchase a mister attachment for your hose. The mister attachment can reduce the body temperature of your birds as well as the ground temperature around the coop.
- Consider placing fans in and around the coop. There are battery and electrical powered fans available at your local hardware store (make sure the fans are not close to any water, as this can potentially be a fire hazard).