Chickens don't love the heat and these Texas summers are brutal for them. They stop laying eggs and can even die of heat stroke. We have learned a few tips to keep them cool when it is 90°+ outside.
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Once the weather starts creeping up above 80°F, chickens think it is heckin' hot. Our first summer, we lost our young production red to heat stroke and have been religious about checking in on them throughout the day since. While my main goal is to keep them comfortable (and frankly alive) with these tips to keep them cool, they can also help up your egg production in the warmer months of the year.
Tips to Keep Your Chickens Cool
Make sure your coop and/or chicken run have plenty of shade for your flock to escape the harsh afternoon sun. We have some oak trees that shade the chicken run and a smaller structure in the coop yard with a roof to provide some shade above where they like to take dust baths.
Air circulation can make all the difference when it is 100°F outside! Our coop has a pretty consistent natural breeze, but if you need to artificially get your chickens a breeze, a box fan right outside the coop works great!
FRESH COOL WATER
Not only does your flock need clean cool water to drink, they also cool themselves by standing in water to cool off their little dino feet 😊. Make sure you have several water bowls that are large and shallow enough for them to stand in. For under 10 hens, we have 3 shallow water bowls. I change them every morning and then place two frozen water bottles in each bowl around lunch time when the day is starting to really heat up. My girls like to drink the fresh water, stand in it and lay beside the bowls of cool water to cool off.
Some people use ice to cool off the water mid-day, but I like water bottles because we always know we won't run out of ice (I think it cools the water for a little longer too). It is just part of the summer routine to bring in the bottles and put them in the freezer after locking the girls in their roost for the night.
Whether this is frozen fruit like bananas or watermelon, an ice block of treats or a bowl of treats in ice water, cold snacks offer a fun cool off for my ladies in the late afternoon heat. My girls love spinach and kale so around 3pm I will take them a bowl of ice water with spinach or whatever other veggie I have floating on top. Other ideas are using a round bundt pan to freeze their favorite fresh treats in water and place in their water bowl. It will cool the water and release cold treats as it melts.
In the morning or early afternoon, I spray down their favorite dust bath spots with water to cool it off. While it dries almost immediately, I've heard this helps keep it a little cooler 🤷♀️. Another tip I have seen but have not tried yet is to freeze a gallon jug or large hard ice pack and burry it under their favorite dust bath spots. This way they can lay on top to keep cool in the heat of the day.
What else do you do to keep your chickens cool in the summer? Tell me in the comments.