Backyard Chickens: Beat the Heat

June 2, 2011
To a shallow pan add water, ice and fresh herbs to help cool the flock and encourage wading.

Wow!  It seems as though Mother Nature decided to turn up the heat for us on Cape Cod.  Last week, it was 49 degrees F and today it is humid and in the low 80s.  I’ve heard that Cape Cod really never experiences a Spring and today, I would have to agree.  The hydrangea leaves are wilting and the perennials look tired.  They will need regular watering in no time. The chickens needed to beat the heat too!

The girls too have realized that Summer will soon be here.  It has been hot enough that Oyster Cracker has started panting.  Oyster Cracker is our biggest and fluffiest chicken and she is always the first one to show signs of overheating.  Which lead me to start thinking about keeping the flock cool and comfortable this summer. Heat stress can be a very serious issue in backyard chickens.

Through my research and watching and learning from fellow chicken friends, I have picked up a few tips that I would like to share with you.

1.  Keep the waterers chilly.  Each evening, I fill a small 2 cup capacity Tupperware container with water, seal the lid and place it in the freezer.  In the morning, I remove the block of ice from the container and slip it through the top of the waterer.  Next, I fill the waterer and bring it out to the girls.  I am sure to refill the Tupperware container and return it to the freezer because sometimes I do this twice a day, in the morning and late afternoon.

2.  Feed your girls nice cool treats in the hottest part of the day.  My flock loves to eat fruits and vegetables straight from the fridge.  They love cucumbers, left-over corn on the cob, watermelon halves and cold tomatoes.  If you can hang them, it also keeps them entertained.  I love my treat ball from Treats for Chickens and use it for this as well.  It fits whole apples and tomatoes.

3.  Create a coop air conditioner.  This is a tip I found on Facebook.  Fill a 1 gallon jug 3/4 of the way full and place it in the freezer until it is completely frozen.  When you get ready to lock your flock up at night, place the frozen jug in the corner of the coop.  As the ice thaws, it cools the surrounding air.  Sometimes, the chickens will even roost right against the jug.

4.  Consider installing windows or opening covered with wiring.  When I purchased my coop, I had three windows cut into it.  All of the windows are covered and secured with hardware cloth and feature removable plexiglass windows.  When the weather is warm, I remove the plexiglass and when it cold and rainy, I replace the plexiglass pieces.

5.  Shade the run.  Be sure that your outdoor space always has a shady space for the girls to escape the heat.  You can always cover portions with a removable tarp, an old blanket or even a small roof.  It is important that they are not baking in the sun all day.

6.  Cool their feet.  Sometimes a nice distraction is a shallow bin filled with cool water where the chickens will wade.  It can be any sort of low profile container. Mine is approximately 12 inches by 24 inches and about 3 inches tall.  Some chickens like this and others could care less.  Plus it’s fun to watch! Here is a link to my chicken Summer Day Spa.

I hope these beat the heat tips have been helpful for you and your feathered family.  Do you have any others that you would like to share?

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Melissa

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

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15 thoughts on “Backyard Chickens: Beat the Heat”

  1. I saw a photo yesterday of someone who had a hen who was overheating. She got a big towel and wet it and laid it on the ground in a big wad and shaped it kind of like a nest and got her BO to lay right in the middle of it. She looked so cool and comfy.

    We haven't had a good heat wave yet in CA but I bought a mister which you put on the end of the hose and will put that in their run and let it mist a corner for them when we do.

    Reply
  2. I have been watering a corner of their run mid morning..they just kinda of ignore it…but later around 3:00 or so..you will see them digging..then bellying..then just laying stretched out in the cool dirt..they love it.
    Glad you are alright!

    Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

    Reply
  3. Hmm… Well, when it's hot out, I dump water on myself. Maybe you could get a towel or something, get it wet, and let your chickens wear it on their backs. Or maybe you could pour a few drops of water on them…

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  4. Great ideas. While our chickens have shade and water and don't appear to be overheating, they are laying less in the extreme heat. Do you find some of these cooling methods keeps egg production up?

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  5. You know, Rob, for us the eggs definitely came back to usual once we had a drop in the humidity, but what I think helped most too was letting them wade in the water that I put in the square 12"x 20"x3" tupperware container that I had as well as the fan.

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  6. I also put out a wadding pool type container. My Buff Orpingtons and Barred Rocks don't really care for it other than to drink out of. But my Ameraucanas absolutely love it. They will walk around in it all day!

    -Katie

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  7. I'm so glad to see your tip about the frozen water bottle in the coop. I have to close my girls up in their coop at night since we've moved to the country and I was concerned about how hot it was in there. It gets so hot here in north, central texas.

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  8. Tilly, love the cool off tips. I just inherited two girls, and we are getting September heat. Also, wanted to ask you, what breed is Dottie Speckles? One of my girls is identical to her (does she have feathered feet?) and the other is a New England (New Hampshire???) Red.

    Reply
    • Thanks! Dottie Speckles is a Silver Laced Wyandotte. Her feet are not feathered. So I am thinking you might have another breed. Yes, New Hampshire Red. What a pretty combination!

      Reply

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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.