Keep Your Chickens Cool in the Heat and They Will Keep Producing Eggs!
Keep your chickens cool in the heat of summer to prevent stress, reduced egg production, and heat-related deaths in your flock. This is an important consideration if your summers get hot and humid!
Every summer I have to beat the heat to keep my flock cool and productive. Our Midwest summers can be brutal on chickens so I’m vigilant about providing cool water and shade for them. I don’t want my birds to suffer and I want to keep gathering those delicious eggs all summer!
This post was originally published on The New Homesteader’s Almanac.
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Are your chickens suffering from a heatwave? Let’s check out some easy ways to keep them cool, healthy, and happy!
How to Tell if Your Chickens are Too Hot
Watch for signs of heat stress and act quickly to cool your birds down.
Chickens don’t have sweat glands to help them cool off. Instead, they pant to expel heat through their lungs and hold their wings up to allow airflow to cool them down. Chicken combs and wattles act to cool them by circulating warm blood close to the surface of the skin to radiate heat away from their body.
If chickens pant, hold their wings up or appear limp, they are experiencing heat-related stress. If they don’t cool down they may suffer from too much stress, stop laying eggs, and can even die from overheating.
So let’s look at ways to cool down your chicken flock in the heat of summer!
How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat
Don’t wait until your flock is already suffering from a heatwave to provide relief. Watch the weather forecast for hot weather and prepare ahead of time. Make sure you have extra water pans, tarps for ‘instant shade’, a barn fan (if you can work it into the budget), and electrolytes on hand.
Some of these cooling methods are super easy and others require planning ahead…
- Provide shade for your flock
- Provide thin layers of clean bedding – do not use a deep bedding method in summer
- Give them several different water sources and refill with cool water often
- Add electrolytes to drinking water
- Place a barn fan in the coop to circulate the air
- Plant shade trees, climbing vines, or other plants to shade their pen and coop during summer
- Freeze water in empty milk jugs and place one in each water dish
- Don’t feed high-fat foods like corn or sunflower seeds in summer
- Don’t allow your birds to become overweight
- Give them a shallow wading pool of cool water
- Turn on a sprinkler in their pen during the hottest part of the day
- Hose down the roof of their coop several times in the heat of the day
- Use a pet or livestock misting system to cool things down
- Paint the exterior of the coop white to reflect heat
- Insulate the inside of their coop to reduce heat in summer and cold in winter
- In extreme cases, dip your birds in cool water to prevent death
Raise the Best Chicken Breed for Hot Climates
Plan ahead for hot weather by raising chickens that tolerate heat. In general, breeds that have smaller body size and larger combs and wattles fare much better in hot weather than heavy breeds with small combs.
If you have cold winters and hot summers, raise Rhode Island Reds.
If you live in a southern area with mild winters and hot summers, raise White Leghorns.
Not sure if those are the right breeds for you? Check out the 16 Best Heat Tolerant Chicken Breeds!
Prevention is Key to Keeping Chickens Cool in Hot Weather
Don’t wait until your birds are overcome by the heat and on the verge of death to cool them down. If you live in an area with hot summers, plan ahead for your flock’s health and well being.
If you’re just getting started in chicken keeping, place their coop and pen in the shade. The best spot for a coop is in an area that receives a cooling breeze in summer. Position windows on the east and west sides of the coop to allow airflow. Don’t use a metal roof that faces south…this will heat up fast in summer. Insulate the coop and add roof vents if possible.
Keep the bedding clean in your coop and don’t use a deep bedding method in hot climates. Deep bedding creates heat from decomposing manure, making your flock even warmer.
Give your flock plenty of cool water, shady spots to chill in the heat of the day, and add ice to their water when things really heat up.
Purchase a good quality barn fan to circulate air in your chicken coop. House fans aren’t built to handle the dust in a barn and may cause a fire if the motor overheats.
Keeping Your Chickens Cool in Summer Will Keep Them Productive!
Whether you raise laying hens or meat chickens, keeping them cool in the heat is important for productivity. Overheating causes laying hens to stop egg production and meat chickens to stop putting on weight. You’re raising chickens for eggs and meat, right?! So keep them cool for the best performance from your flock.
So your chickens are cool and comfy, but they still aren’t laying eggs? Find out Why Your Chickens Don’t Lay Eggs!
Gather those eggs often in summer to prevent spoilage from the heat.
Maybe you are keeping chickens as pets and production isn’t as important. But you’ll want to keep your pets comfortable in summer too!
How Will You Keep Your Chickens Cool this Summer?
Do you have any additional tips for cooling down your flock in summer?
Is there one idea shared in this post that you found most helpful for keeping your chickens cool in hot weather?
Hop on down to the comments and share your tips and tricks for chilling with the chicks!
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In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.
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