For much of the country we are dealing with extreme temperatures and many of us are really feeling the heat! Many of us know to take precautionary measures for ourselves as well as our pets. If you keep chickens this goes for them as well! Chickens have a normal internal body temp of around 109 degrees. This is great for the cold weather but they can easily get heat exhaustion and die if you do not provide them means to stay cool. As you can see with Henny Penny or Lucy above (which ever one it is) she is panting much like a dog does and is also holding out her wings both of which help to cool her body down. I thought (though many of us have already been enduring record temps this summer) that I would show you some ways to help keep your flock as cool and comfortable as possible.
- It is really important that you provide them with some sort of shade. This could be a tree, a tarp or even better I found this stuff called Coolaroo Shade Fabric. This can be found on line such as Amazon.com or for those with Sam's Club memberships they have a large roll of this for around $35. This comes in several shades and though it allows light through it blocks up to 80% of UV rays and considerably lowers the temperature under it. Their are several ways to attach this as well depending on the need. I planned on doing this at the start of summer but this summer has been insanly busy which is why I haven't been on here lately.
- Make sure they have cool fresh water everyday. Adding lots of ice will also greatly help to keep the water cooler longer. I often when temps reach into the 90's change their water by mid afternoon because it can get quite warm to even hot. I also try to keep water both in the coop as well as in the shade in the run. The water container can be anything I use a large pink chip bowl left over from my daughters birthday as it is easy to fill and clean out.
- Another thing is a mister. This can be the attachment to your hose or an actual mister. I have used for the last couple years a mister that I bought at Lowes but I just went out today and founf one of the nozzles is not working so I rigged up the mister from my hose attachment and it works just fine. This also really helps to cool the air down and the chickens seem to enjoy it. I have mine near the coop door which I have left open to provide as much air circulation as possible. For some reason though it is hotter in the coop then tend to stay inside. It may be that the sand in the coop is cooler then the sand outside. Or perhaps they are just not too bright! The picture is foggy because the lens kept fogging up on me.
- If you have the means to run a box fan or another type of fan out to your coop this is also another great way to cool down the coop and your hens. In my old coop I put it along the outside of the run in a cool spot and they loved sitting right in front of the fan at high speed. IN my new coop I have it in the coop above them pointing down but I am not sure it does a whole lot of good that way. I am going with another plan for next year. The fan does help with flies too which is nice little bonus!
Those are just a few tips on keeping your hens as cool and comfortable as possible in these extreme temps like todays 99 with a heat index of up to 111 degrees! They will still pant and hold their wings out but this is just their way of helping themselves to cool off. Giving them some cool treats like ice cold water melon will be a special treat and my girls sure do love them some nice cold water melon!
Just make sure they have plenty of water and a place to get out of the sun at the very least. They can overheat. Also their are breeds that do better in hot weather just as their are breeds that are better suited to cold weather or rather I should say can tolerate the heat or cold better then other breeds.
Another thing to remember your hens may stop laying when temps soar and this is completely normal just as they stop laying when they molt. If a hen is stressed they will often stop laying for awhile but this should pass. Just keep your eye on them and learn what is normal behavior and what is not. You can also give your flock vitamins (come in powder form that you mix with their water) that you can get at your local feed and seed or tractor supply. If you are unsure what it is as someone and they will help you. It is much like giving them gatorade. Another thing that is really good for them is organic applecider vinegar but do not give them this in a metal water container plastic only. You may want to check about this with the vitamins too. If you want to know more about the vinegar just shoot me an email and I will be happy to let you know more about it and how to go about givig it to your flock.
Stay safe and cool! God bless!