Proper chicken care is important no matter the weather or season, but summer is usually the hardest period of time on a flock.
While chickens can warm themselves up by fluffing their feathers, getting out of the wind, and eating and drinking, they have a much harder time cooling down. This is because they don’t have sweat glands. It is up to us, as their caretakers, to provide them with proper methods of staying cool on the hottest of days.
Continue reading to learn more about how to care for chickens during the heat of summer. Chickens don’t have great ways of naturally cooling down, so it’s vital that we, as their caretakers, implement systems for preventing them from overheating. Below you’ll find some of the best tips and ticks we’ve gathered for keeping your flock healthy and cool on the hottest of days.
How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer
1. Make sure they have plenty of water.
This may seem like an obvious point to bring to your attention, but it should still be noted that chickens drink a whole lot of water during summer. Perhaps more than you bargain for! Chickens drink about 4-5 times the amount of water in the summer that they normally need during cooler months.
Chickens don’t have many great ways of regulating their body temperatures in the heat, so they rely very heavily on water.
I suggest providing them with more than you think they’ll need and checking that the supply is still available during the hottest portion of summer.
A few things to think about regarding water for chickens in the summer:
- Metal waterers/containers will heat up faster than other materials. This means the water will become warm and evaporate quickly in the sunshine. Think about switching the material of your waterers or keeping them in the shade.
- Offer smaller and more shallow dishes for water. This will aid in keeping the water cool on the hottest days!
- Place the waterers in obvious places. Chickens use up a lot of energy just trying to cool down in the summer, so don’t make them search high and low for their water source.
- Adding a block of ice to the water. Struggling to keep the water cool? Try freezing a large amount of water and adding it into the waterer at least once per day. This will cool their water down quite a bit!
2. Add electrolytes to their water.
On the hottest of days, be sure to take some extra time to watch how your flock is doing. Some chickens may function quite well and show no signs of struggle while others may begin overheating.
One of the best ways to help chickens who are overheated is by providing them with electrolytes.
Added electrolytes to drinking water can restore the minerals and vitamins lost when chickens are dehydrated. But it’s also important not to overdo it – chickens cannot take a lot of salt. Be sure to do a little research in order to determine how much to place in their water!
3. Feed them extra fruits and veggies
Many fruits and veggies contain a very high percentage of water. Try chilling or freezing the food items before giving them to the chickens. This will only aid the flock in cooling down!
- Watermelon: high in water, fat free, almost no salt, and full of multi-vitamins and antioxidants. Great for keeping the flock healthy and cool!
- Tomatoes: no, the fruit itself is not poisonous to chickens…only the vines are!
4. Allow space for dust baths.
Unfortunately, hot weather attracts mites and and lice to chicken coops. We do not want them causing further strain on our already stressed flock.
Dust bathing is a good way to both get rid of mites, and help your flock cool off in the heat.
One can provide dust bathing areas in the form of a children’s sand pit, old tires and wooden blocks, my flock usually make their own space down in the dirt.
If creating a specific spot of dust bathing, be sure to place them in a shady spot!
5. Keep the coop cool
Make sure that the coop has adequate ventilation during the hot summer months. Look to ensure that a good flow of air can pass through the coop at about the chickens height.
If your coop does not allow for airflow and is extremely stuffy, you can always utilize a fan. This is would not be my first recommendation, but it is better than an overheated flock!
I also recommend leaving the coop door open for as many hours of the day as possible as this will allow for further airflow throughout the coop.
Summer time is ideal for diseases to thrive in chicken coops. Warmth and moisture can attract lice, mites, and flies…all pests that can cause quite a bit of harm to chickens.
One way to keep the coop cool and less attractive to pests is by using sand instead of straw or shavings as bedding. This material is much less likely to harbor disease and it stays a lot cooler than other forms of bedding!
A second solution to overly-warm and disease-prone coops is to clean them regularly. Clearing out as much chicken poo as possible will ensure that the space remains healthy. I recommend giving it a good clean every 2 or 3 days.
Signs of Overheating
- Labored breathing and panting
- Pale combs/wattles
- Lifting wings away from body
More on Chickens
- All About Storing Fresh Chicken Eggs
- How to Keep Chicken Eggs from Freezing
- Do Chickens Need a Heat Lamp?