Caring for Your Chickens in the Heat

Caring for your Chickens in the Heat :: Five Little Homesteaders

Have you caught on to the fact that it is hot in Arizona?  If you didn’t already know this little fact, then the amount of time I’ve ALREADY bombarded you with this information should have given you a clear picture.

So, that being said, Phoenix is hot.  And if you keep chickens, this can be a problem.  Caring for your chickens in the heat can be a tricky task.

Caring for Your Chickens in the Heat

We are currently raising six chickens on our property.  Two of these chickens are around two years old or a little older.  The other four are approaching six months.  Caring for our chickens in the heat is important business.  From what I’ve read, chickens are better adapted to the cold than they are to extreme heat.  Plus, short of installing central air in their coop, it is easier to keep them warm than it is to keep them cool.

Here’s a little more info (mostly drawn from Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, my go-to book) on how chickens handle the heat:

  • At temperatures above 104, chickens have significant trouble regulating their body temperature.  (It easily gets up to 112 in the shade during the height of summer.)
  • Chickens don’t sweat.  They will pant to help them lose internal body heat and hold their wings out to allow increase air circulation around their body.  (On any given afternoon you will find my chickens doing both of these things.)
  • Chickens can cool themselves through their feet.

Here are some things that we do to care for our chickens in the heat:

  • Box fan – We keep a box fan going 24 hours a day to keep air circulating and a breeze going to help the chickens cool themselves.  They were scared of it for the first day but quickly figured out its worth.
  • Shade – Both coops are situated under a very large tree.  We have also stapled burlap on the west side of the coop/run to protect them from the scorching afternoon sun.  Based on a reader’s advice, I attached a tarp over the simple run that I built for the “baby” chickens.
  • Ice – Ice, ice and more ice – ice is your chicken’s best friend in the heat.  I scatter cubes from the freezer on the ground.  They will stand directly on it or lay next to it.  It also cools the ground and after it has melted the chickens have a great time rolling and bathing in the cool, wet dirt.
  • Shallow pans of water – I use the dishes that come with terra cotta or plastic pots.  I fill them with water and then place a frozen bottle of water (with the lid off) in the dish.  The water will slowly melt and provide cool water for a long period of time.  The chickens love to stand in these.
Keeping Your Chickens Cool in the Heat :: Five Little Homesteaders

 

  • Lots of cool clean water – This probably doesn’t need much explanation.  Just like us, they like a nice, cool drink in the summer.  Eggs are mostly water, so this is important.  (We currently use this waterer, though I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of it.)

This is about all we’ve done and we’ve been successful so far.  Lisa of the blog Fresh Eggs Daily has a great post on how she cares for her chickens in the heat.  I read over it and she has some great information and does many of the same things we do.  She even has a recipe for homemade electrolytes  to feed your chickens.  I might have to try that one out.  I’ve also heard about of a lot of people freezing chicken treats in blocks of ice.  This seems like a great idea, too.  Anything to get them drink more water.

One thing that I did try and wasn’t that successful was using a water mister.  The chickens were terrified of it and gave me a great visual for the cliche “mad as a wet hen.”  I’ve heard of people using them with success, but as Lisa cautions in her post, it can cause health problems if not done correctly.

What is summer like where you are?  What special lengths do you go to for your chickens?

      
Keeping Your Chickens Cool in the Heat :: Five Little Homesteaders

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Comments

  1. We have only had one super hot day and I was a little concerned about the chickies. They’ve been hanging out under neath a big bush that is in the dog run where there coop is located. When it starts getting hot I’ll use these tips. Thanks so much.

  2. Thanks for the information. As I embark on our chicken plan, I am thankful for all the information available. Of course it is also very overwhelming!

  3. Great idea with the planter trays! In Boise we get really hot and dry too. I’ve used a mister to create a damp area and the girls (3 hens) will go near there. They won’t actually stand near the mister, but it evaporates and gives them a cool space. I also fenced in an area that is always shady for the summer. I water it every day or so, to keep it damp and cool. I use “wet” treats like crushed ice in a pie pan (they LOVE it!), crushed grapes, cherries, cukes, anything with a lot of water. Here’s a post I did recently- http://littlehomesteadinboise.blogspot.com/2013/06/keeping-chickens-cool-thrifting-finds.html

  4. I was curious- how long did it take your chickens to figure out about standing in the pans? I out 2 new ones out yesterday, but they just drank from them. Hopefully they’ll figure it out, if not I’ll do a demo!

  5. Thanks for the link to my post! You’ve got it all covered here. And actually at temps above around 80 degrees, chickens start to feel the heat. They are MUCH happier in the cold. Great post and I love your text box fonts :0)
    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily
    http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com

  6. We have very hot summers although not quite as hot as Arizona. Last summer we had over two weeks where the temp was above 110. We just got our chickens and I have been concerned ~ I got RIRs because I thought they might handle things a little better. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop.

  7. Great tips! We live in Phoenix and the high was 117 today! We provided shade, mister, ice blocks, lots and lots of water but I would like to add a fan.

    They all made it through the worst of it today and I still got 5 eggs. They are good girls. ;)

    Tiffany
    http://www.imperfectlyhappy.com

  8. How about these ideas: the first I borrowed it from another blog called For Love of Cats — freeze gallon water jugs and put on top of gravity feed water dispensers for animals.

    I have seen water dispensers that will take a liter soda bottle as a water reservoir also which you could just freeze the liter water bottle and then attach to the dispenser base.

    Finally I have seen a idea for a personal air conditioner made from a plastic tub … you put ice in the tub and have a fan pushing air into and across the ice. Directional output into the coop. Parts needed large plastic storage tub with lid, small fan, duct tape, 90 deg PVC pipe for directional exhaust.

  9. I also live in the hot AZ desert and am new to keeping chickens. I tried the pans of cool water for them to stand in but they didn’t want to stand in it only drink it. Then I discovered this great tip on YouTube to keep chickens cool in the heat and it really does work! I add a large adobe brick/paver to the pan of water and they will stand on it to cool themselves and it stays really cool all day long!

  10. I live in Florida and the heat this summer has been in the 90’s. I freeze the watermelon rinds for them and they love it. I also put ice cubes in theit water.

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