With summer heat upon us, it’s important to remember that high temperatures can be harder on a flock than the cold temperatures of winter. The effects of heat are cumulative and can be enhanced by high humidity so be sure to keep vigilant during heat spells. A temperature of 80 degrees with high humidity can bring on heat-related problems.
Keeping your chickens cool in summer is a must do. There’s nothing we can do to stop the heat, but we can help our chickens beat the heat.
First, it’s important to know how chickens cool themselves. Do chickens sweat? Nope. Instead, they spread their wings and lift their feathers to let heat escape. Chickens will start to pant when the temperature reaches 85 degrees. They can also vibrate their throat muscles which allows warm moisture to evaporate.
In hot weather, chickens that are free ranging look for an undisturbed shady, cool spot to rest. We can provide these spaces through garden plantings, awnings, umbrellas, whatever it takes.
Water is crucial during summer’s heat. Adding more waterers, keeping them filled and locating them in shady spots is helpful. Adding some ice to the water hits the spot, just be sure not to add too much. We don’t want to shock our chickens with frigid water, just cool them off a little. Consider adding a shallow pool of water where your chickens can stand. This helps keep them cool.
During hot weather, it’s best not to keep chickens inside a hot coop. The inside of a coop can be much hotter than outside and more intense. If you’re considering where to place your coop, keep summer’s heat in mind. Locate your coop where there is relief through shade; such as the edge of a tree line. When your chickens do go inside at night to roost, make sure the coop is well ventilated by leaving windows open and having a fan running to increase air movement.
Be sure to check on your chickens often during the summer heat. If you have kids, be sure they don’t run around and try to play with them. Increased activity equals increased body heat. Keeping your birds comfortable and undisturbed will help them avoid heat stress and enjoy the summer.