Summer is here in full swing and with so many across the country dealing with heat waves, it’s so important to take extra care with your chickens. I’ve done a post on this previously, but want to repost to help the chickens “keep their cool”.
We live in Southern Oregon so obviously our flock is made up of cold hearty breeds which can do just fine in hot weather but they’re not huge fans of it and a little extra care needs to be taken with them. Chickens will sometimes sit with their wings held out from their bodies, this is normal and their way of cooling off. Yes, they will pant…again all normal for them.
Make sure they have plenty of fresh cold water available at all times and if at all possible, have several water stations available to them. I keep a gravity feed waterer in their run but then have a pot of water and a tub of water available to them under a couple shade trees they like to hang under. Adding ice cubes or even a block of ice to their water helps a lot. I have read that chickens will not drink warm water and would rather dehydrate than drink it, with our chickens this hasn’t been the case so not sure but why risk the chance. While the girls do their share of dust/sun bathing, for the most part in these extra hot days you’ll find them under a tree, trailer or the skidder that’s at the back of our property. Quickly running into the hen house to poop out an egg and then get back to shade is their norm these days. They tend to do more foraging in the morning and much later in the day, closer to evening actually. For some reason, I’ll sometimes find the younger ones roosting in one of the coops, not sure why but maybe they feel cool in there who knows.
I’ll add homemade electrolytes to their waters for them as well and you can do 1-1/2 teaspoon to 1 quart of water OR 6 teaspoons to 1 gallon of water.
Frozen fruits or veggies are a treat as well. Watermelon is a favorite for them and the colder the better 😊
It’s important to have shade over the chicken run, whether they free range or not. This can be plywood, shade screen or even a reflective tarp. If there’s windows that can be opened, keep them open day and night…just make certain to have hardware cloth securely in place to keep out any predators.
Now while some folks put a mister in their chicken run, I don’t suggest this. When chickens feathers get wet it doesn’t necessarily cool them but prevents them from flapping their wings and flapping helps cool them down. However, if you have ducks, they don’t need a pond but providing them with a kiddie pool of cool water is a favorite for them as well. Now if you want to have a mister for the ducks, they love it! Our ducks love when I turn on the shower part of the hose nozzle for them after I’ve filled their drinking and pool water. They enjoy just napping in their pool. Not such a shabby life huh? Relaxing all day in the pool…hmmmmm.
With the heat can come flies, to avoid flies in the coop you can spray some natural cleaning product, sprinkle some fresh herbs with lavender being a fly repellent, rose petals if you have roses in your garden. This is something I use and got the recipe from Lisa Steele, which is orange peel spray. The chickens will enjoy it and so will you!
Remember, chickens have existed for a very very long time and know how to handle the weather. We cannot equate our level of comfort/discomfort with theirs but we can provide things to keep them healthy. I cannot stress enough the importance of having fresh cold water though, that is a biggie for your flock.
If you also want to put a nesting box(es) in a shady but somewhat private location, sometimes they’ll decide the coop is too warm and decide to lay elsewhere. My girls are very good about going into the coop to lay, but there have been times when I find a stray egg, and it’s usually either she waited too long to go or wanted to stay in the shade since this is where I’ll find it. It’s not often they do this though. Earlier today I did add another nest box in one of the cubbies in my pallet garden workbench. I’ll let you know if they use it, they keep going in there but I haven’t found any eggs yet. Oh these girls.
As always…keep smiling, it makes people wonder what you’re up to! If you enjoyed this post, please follow, share with others who you think would enjoy or benefit from it and sign up so you don’t miss a thing and also for my weekly newsletter. Have an Outstanding Day!