The summer heat doesn’t just take its toll on humans, it affects our feathered friends as well. It is difficult for chickens to stay cool during the summer months, so the more you can do to assist them, the better off you will all be. Chickens don’t sweat, so they rely on panting to keep cool and they also hold their wings away from their bodies to allow the air to flow under their wings. Their combs and wattles also assist with keeping their body temperatures down by allowing the heat to escape their bodies.
To assist you with keeping your flock cool this summer, we have compiled some tips for you to follow. In fact, some of these were submitted to us by our Facebook followers.
COLD WATER — Clean accessible drinking water for your birds is very important. During the summer heat, switch to more shallow pans to make it easy to clean and keep full. Also, consider adding a block of ice to the water to keep it colder longer. If you use nipple waterers, make sure you add pans of water around your run for easy additional access.
Adding a product that adds vitamins and electrolytes in the drinking water, such as Quik Chik will help reduce the effects of heat stress in your poultry, as well.
Providing non-drinking water for your chickens to enjoy will help keep them comfortable as it will provide them an opportunity to get their feet wet and to dunk their heads. Dunking their heads in water and cooling their wattles and combs immediately lowers their body temperature.
SHADE — If you don’t have natural shade, create some by using a small covered structure or use a tarp or umbrellas. The shaded areas will allow your chickens to gather in a cooler place out of the direct sunlight.
FEED — Chickens consume a lot less feed in the summer. Stay away from feeding scratch grains because digesting the scratch can actually warm up a chicken’s body temperature. In the extreme heat, lighting the coop and feeding the chickens at night will encourage them to eat because it is cooler.
ADDITIONAL TIPS — Frozen watermelon is treat that many of our readers shared with us that they use to hydrate and cool their chickens. Freeze ice blocks and include strawberries, blueberries, cucumber slices, and vegetables, such as, peas and corn kernels. This allows the chickens to get the additional hydration needed from the ice and nutrients from the hidden treats. One Facebook follower shared she adds mint to her ice blocks to help reduce the chickens body temperature.
Several Facebook followers shared that they hang frozen ice jugs in front of an oscillating fans to create a “mister” effect. Be careful when using this method as it could generate too much moisture which can cause respiratory issues. Also make sure the ice jugs are secure. You can also freeze milk jugs of water and set them around the run so the chickens can lean against them to cool off as one follower shared.
If you do notice that you have a chicken that is suffering from the effects of the heat, get it to a cool area, provide hydration and soak their feet in cool water to assist with bringing their body temperature down.
By paying attention to your flock and implementing some of the tips we shared above, your chickens will remain healthy and producing throughout the summer heat.