Top High Temp Tips for Your Chickens
Here in the Northeast, chicken owners devote more of their time keeping the coop warm in extreme temps than keeping it cool. But July and August heat waves can mean putting cool coop management skills to work. Heat affects chickens just as it does humans and other animals, no matter what region you live in, requiring more than basic coop ventilation efforts to maintain comfort. Here’s to top 5 basics from expert chicken bloggers and enthusiasts when it comes to achieving a cool coop during the summer heat.
Water & Mist
Access to cool water for ingesting is critical, agree expert keepers such as Counting My Chickens, and is arguably number one when it comes to providing hot chickens with relief. Hens can drink up to three cups of water on a hot day. Keep it cool by changing it regularly, keeping it in the shade, or keep water frozen overnight so it stays cooler longer when you put it out in the morning.
In addition to water for drinking, a couple of inches of water in a kiddie pool provides a heat-easing retreat. Misting is another chicken farmer favorite, whether it’s with a portable mister, misting nozzle on the end of your hose, or a timed misting system to provide a cool down for the grass for a while. Consider the many options on the market, or DIY your irrigation — there are a wealth of videos online that will help you.
We’ll give credit to Farming My Backyard for this one, but shade is most every chicken farmer’s top heat beating basic. Chickens simply must have shade in high temperatures. Natural shade like trees and bushes is effective and having some planted by the run is good chicken farming practice. If trees and bushes are lacking, opt for tarps and lean-tos, and plant with an eye toward next year. Be cautious of tents, closed in areas can restrict ventilation.
Here are some other chicken shade ideas from The Happy Chicken Coop including ways to use branches, shade cloths, and climbing vines.
Treats take the prize for most opportunities to be creative when keeping chickens cool. Star Milling suggests providing chickens with frozen wedges of watermelon for a tasty hydration boost (in moderation, of course). Other frozen treat ideas include freezing a Tupperware full of berries overnight, or adding fruit, veggies, or chicken-friendly herbs to ice cubes or muffin cups to spread around on hot days.
Fresh Eggs Daily suggests keeping a batch of electrolytes on hand when the mercury’s high. It can help chickens avoid overheating and mitigate the effect of lost vitamins and minerals. Tablets are an option (purchasable at trusted retailers) or use the Fresh Eggs Daily recipe: Mix 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons sugar, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon baking soda, and mix into the drinking water in a ratio of one cup per gallon of water.
Dust & Mud Baths
Dust baths provide more than just a relaxing spa—chickens bathe to keep parasites down and to cool themselves when it’s hot. The Happy Chicken Coop recommends creating a designated dust bathing area in a shady spot, or creating one by filling an enclosed tub or kiddie pool with a peat moss and ash mixture. Here are some additional DIY dust bath tips. Water down the dust bath for added coolness. Mud baths, too, are appreciated by hot chickens, and it can attract them more then standing water. If your chickens are giving the kiddie pool with water a snub, a little mud puddle will change their minds.
Bonus Heat-beating Tip:
We love this tip for cool chicks from Boots & Hooves:
“Create a chicken piñata by using a head of iceberg lettuce (big on water content) and hang with some twine. It creates fun entertainment for the chickens, too!”