Are you ready for the heat of summer? You may be dreaming of soaking up the sun poolside with hot dogs sizzling on the grill; however, your backyard flock will be less-than-impressed with the soaring temperatures.
Heat stroke happens
Some breeds can handle heat better than others, but all chickens can be susceptible to heat stroke in temperatures over 8 o degrees F. if not provided adequate means to avoid it.
Signs of heat fatigue include: beaks hanging open (panting), laying on the
ground with wings spread or not eating.
Heat stroke can be disastrous, but there are several ways to avoid this and help keep your flock comfortable.
Ice, ice, baby
Ice water on a hot day makes everyone happy! Chickens are no exception. Plop some ice cubes in their waterer to for quick chill to their day. You can make some larger ice chunks by freezing water in plastic cups (hello, Solo cups from college-proceed to party!).
What else can you do with ice, you ask? Open a can of corn, toss it into your plastic (Solo) cup and top off with water. Freeze overnight then toss it in the yard for a fun filled day of chilled pecking! Same can be done with scratch if you have some leftover from their winter stash.
Also, try freezing some pineapple or watermelon chunks, sliced (seed-free!) apples and whole strawberries. If you want to give your hens some extra protein, mix the fruit with sugar-free, plain yogurt before freezing.
A simple beach umbrella can make a world of difference on a scorching hot day. Cheap, easy to construct and your chickens will appreciate it. It can actually reduce the ground temperature by 15 degrees; you may want to get 2 or 3 umbrellas so your ladies don't fight over the shade!
If you want to get really fancy, add a mister attachment to your hose. You can buy these attachments from most home improvement stores or online. Simply hang the hose from a tree branch or fence and your ladies can reap the benefits. Be sure to set a timer so you don't have water running for too long ... those water bills can add up fast!
If a mister isn't an option, a simple lawn sprinkler can do the trick!
Ventilation is key
Whether you live in a cold or warm environment (or a confusing one, like Colorado), you should always keep ventilation in mind when building a coop. Windows are an easy way to allow airflow throughout. If you coop doesn't have a window, prop the door for a few hours to allow any slight breeze to ruffle your chickens' feathers!
Keep it tidy
Reduce deep bedding, no more than 2 inches deep to prevent heat from being trapped. This may mean you will have to clean more often, but you'll probably want to tidy up more than usual anyways summer heat and dirty bedding make a great home for creepy crawlies!
Cheap, plastic kiddie pools are a perfect way to beat the heat. Fill with about 3-4 inches of water and watch your hens splish-splash the day away! For even more fun, buy some feeder fish and toss them in. Great protein and it will encourage even the most skeptical of chickens to take a dip!
Heat stroke is serious and can escalate quickly.
Rising temps can be rough on anyone, but a bit of planning will keep your chickens healthy and cool this summer.
For more information about keeping your chicks cool: https://youtu.be/VP--gHhzPGA