Summer is in full effect in the Northern Hemisphere. Hoomans and animals are feelin’ hot 🥵 hot ☀️ hot 🌡️. While some species tolerate heat better than others, the same can be said for chickens depending on the breed. According to The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide to Keeping Chickens, all chickens produce a lot of body heat—as much as a 60 watt light bulb. (Crazy, right?) Therefore, chickens are already warm before summer shows up. When Mother Nature causes the ambient temperature to go above 90o F/32o C, it's hazardous for your flock. We know you want to keep them safe, so we're sharing tips on keeping chickens cool and preventing heatstroke.
How to Keep Chickens Cool
Interestingly, the methods to keep chickens cool in summer are very similar to what a hooman does to stay cool. We've got 10 ideas for you, and most of them don’t require any special equipment.
Drinking cold and fresh water🥤 are recommended to beat the heat. Chickens should always have access to unlimited water, but it's especially important in the summer.
2. Misting Water
Humans of all ages love water misters when it’s scorching outside. Chickens love to be lightly misted with water, too! You don’t have to buy a fancy water mister like you see at restaurants or amusement parks. A simple water spray bottle (think hair salon style) is just fine. If you have a large flock, you may want to invest in larger spray bottles.
3. Frozen Bottles of Water
How does roosting next to a nice frozen plastic water bottle sound? Most people always have extra empty water bottles laying around. Repurpose them by filling them with water. You can even use the half-gallon or gallon sizes. Then, pop them in the freezer, and put them in the coop for your birds once they’re frozen. It’s not recommended to use the frozen gel packs that come with food shipments. Chickens are curious, and they could pierce the plastic cover and consume the non-water based chemical contents.
4. A Dip in the Pool
If your chickens trust you to pick them up (and they're comfortable with it), you can fill a bucket or a kiddie pool with cold water and even throw in some ice cubes. Then carefully dip your peeps in the water for instant heat relief. Your flock may also hop in the kiddie pool all by themselves. Make sure the water doesn’t get too warm after it’s in the bucket or pool for several hours.
5. Mud Bath
Not all chickens like to stand in water, but they enjoy walking through a mud puddle when it hot. Using a hose or a bucket, you can make a muddy corner inside the coop or run where the floor is dirt.
Your coop should always be well ventilated using windows and doors. You can keep it breezy and safe while placing small gauge welded wire over the windows and doors. Predators stay out, and your flock stays cool. If you need more help creating the optimal coop, check out our article on Coop Necessities.
7. Create a Breeze
Summer air can be unbearable without a bit of a breeze. You can suck the hot air out of the coop or draw in cooler air with a box fan. Simply place it in the window and turn it on.
8. Shade ⛱️
Chickens love the shade as much as hoomans. If you don't have natural shade from eaves or trees, create some with tarps or umbrellas.
9. Frozen Fruit
Who doesn’t love some chilled watermelon in the summer? Chop up watermelon, apples, tomatoes, and berries or sliced bananas. Pop the fruit in the freezer, then serve when frozen. Your flock will love you for delivering refreshing and tasty treats. You can also entertain your chickens by putting the fruit in different locations to keep them busy. Bored chickens can cause trouble, and we've got more information about that here.
10. Choose the Right Chicken Breed
Different chicken breeds are better suited for certain climates than others. Before choosing your flock members, research which kinds will tolerate your local weather best.
How Hot is Too Hot for Chickens?
Like hoomans, chickens will tell you when they're hot. A second-order effect of hot chickens is a drop in egg production. If you don't see as many eggs as you’re used to, implement more of our tips on how to cool chickens.
Here are some signs that your flock is too hot:
- Walking around with an open beak (panting)
- Holding their wings away from body
- Lying on the ground (lethargic) and holding their wings away from body
- Increased thirst/water consumption
Please keep in mind that chickens can get heatstroke, which can be fatal. As the temperature increases in the summertime, especially above 80o F/27o C, keep a close eye on your flock. You don't want them to suffer through the summer as they're already naturally toasty.
As you can see, keeping your chickens cool is really easy. Additionally, you can keep yourself cool simultaneously with most of these tips. We hope you have a fun and safe summer. If you have any other suggestions to keep your flock cool, we’d love to hear them. Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on our socials. Thanks for reading.