7 Ways To Keep Your Chickens Cool During Summer

7 Ways To Keep Your Chickens Cool During Summer Blog Cover

Spring has now past and we are slowly creeping forward into the summer. Whilst this is great for most of us as it means holidays and great weather, spare a thought for our two legged friends who often struggle in the heat.

Here in the US, we can expect to see temperatures soar over 100Fahrenheit in some places and believe us when we say, your chickens won’t be impressed…

Let’s take a look at how you can identify when your chickens have heat stroke and then our favourite 7 ways to cool them down during the summer.

Signs Your Chicken Has Heat Stroke

Some breeds of chicken cope better than others in the heat (Black Minorcas do really well), however when the temperatures get up and over the 80Fahrenheit mark, any breed of chicken will start to suffer.

This suffering can range from going off lay all the way through to, in extreme cases, dying.

You will probably notice as the temperature gets over 90Fahrenheit their egg production will slow down and eventually stop as temperatures exceed 100Fahrenheit.

If you don’t take special measures during such heatwaves your girls will show signs of heat fatigue such as:

  • Walking around with their beaks wide open.
  • Lying on the ground with their wings spread.
  • Eating little amounts of food.

We’ve had chickens now for over 6 years so our girls have seen their fair share of heatwaves and we’ve learnt a thing or two about how to help them during this time.

Let’s take a look at the 7 things you can do to cool them down and keep them laying eggs.

1. Ice Their Water

The first and easiest thing you can do is to sort their water supply out. Normally we just have a single 30 litre chicken drinker in their pen and this is fine for our girls most of the time.

However during heatwaves we replace their drinker with several shallow dishes. We scatter these dishes throughout the pen so the girls are always near water. The shallow dishes are also much easier to refill throughout the day to keep the water cool.

Make sure to keep these dishes in shade and during midday place ice cubes in the dishes to keep the water cool.

2. Freeze Their Feed

Once you’ve sorted their water supply out the second best thing you can is feed them cold or frozen food. Our chickens love: bananas, pineapples, watermelons, apples and strawberries.

We take these fruits, chop them into small pieces and freeze them. It should only take a couple of hours until they are frozen then you can feed them straight to your chickens.

A word of caution: make sure to remove the pips from apples as they are poisonous.

Frozen Fruit For Chickens
Frozen Fruit For Our Chickens

Another favourite of our chickens is yogurt mixed with fruit. We feed them plain Greek yogurt and place some frozen fruit inside it. Just dump this yogurt out into their trough and watch them go crazy!

As well as feeding them the right food you need to make sure not to feed them the wrong food during a heatwave. Don’t feed them Maize (diced corn) or scratch as this takes them a long time to digest and causes their body temperature to rise.

3. Give Them Shade

If your pen is anything like ours, it doesn’t have any shade except the chicken coop- this is bad news for our chickens during heatwaves.

During our girls’ first heatwave we noticed they were digging to try and get underneath the nesting boxes and that’s when it struck us… they didn’t have any shade.

We went out and bought a free-standing parasol for $20 and we now have two of them at either end of the pen. During the summer we set these parasols up and the girls love hiding underneath them during midday when the temperature spikes.

4. Get A Mister

So the parasol isn’t quite cutting it for the girl? You can always get a misting attachment for your hose and leave this on during the day. Once you put the attachment on your hose just hang it down off either a tree branch or the top of your pen.

Friends of ours who’ve done this say it reduces the ground temperature by around 15 degrees- your girls will be jostling to get underneath it for sure!

We haven’t done this because the weather never gets too much over 80Fahrenheit, but we have got this as a standby in case we ever need it!

You should be able to produce mist like this © Beth
You should be able to produce mist like this © Beth

Make sure to use this carefully as you can run up a large water bill.

5. Ventilate Their Coop

If you live in the hotter states (Florida, Arizona and California) then you might need to make adjustments to your chicken coop as chances are its heating up before you even let your chickens out into their pen in the morning.

To keep your chicken coop cool you need to allow for ventilation. The simplest way to do this is to fit a window into your coop and leave the window slightly open when they go to roost. This will give your chickens nice cool air throughout the night.

Read how much room do chickens need for more advice on chicken coop design.

If you’re concerned about predators you can place a steel window guard on the outside of the window.

Another great way to reduce the temperature is to install a fan in their coop and run it during the daytime. This helps keep the coop cool so it isn’t hot when they go to roost in the evening.

Finally, make sure you only have a very thin layer of bedding (sawdust) down on the floor of the coop. if you have too much chicken bedding inside your coop during the summer, it will act as an insulator and keep some heat inside the coop.

6. Baby Pool Time

Instead of using the misting method above, we decided to get out our old baby pool and fill this with ice cold water. Our girls came flying over and dunked themselves into the water when we set it up!

If you really want to make the water chilly you can place ice cubes into the water.

On a hot day you will find after a few hours the water inside the pool will heat up and need replacing. We’d recommend only using the baby pool once a day during early afternoon when the temperature spikes.

7. Frozen Gallon Jugs

If you don’t have a spare baby pool, you can always make you own portable frozen water bottles.

Frozen Gallon Jugs
Frozen Gallon Jugs © Patrick

Take a spare gallon milk jug and fill this up with water then freeze it. Once it’s frozen solid, take it to your chicken pen and slightly bury it in their favourite dusting places. Place a small towel over the jug then let your chickens perch on top of the jug and cool down. For added effect make sure to bury the jug in shade.

We hope this helps keep your chickens cool during the heatwave. Be sure to let us know in the comments how you get on and if you have any other clever ways to keep your chickens cool during the summer.

Blog Cover Modified From Naomi

Comments

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Carolyn,

      You need to make sure the water isn’t too deep! A couple of inches is plenty for them 🙂

      Claire

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Not that I’m aware of!

      But as I previously mentioned- you don’t want to soak them in the baby pool! A couple of inches should do it,

      Claire

  1. Maria Burgess says

    Thank you for sharing this. I just lost my two Cornish Rocks on Memorial Day and am concerned about my remaining birds, two sex-linked hens. Using your advice here, I will be adjusting some things in the coop area. I live in Las Vegas where the heat is brutal. I gave them a shallow wading tub and will be placing half gallon jugs in the shaded area. Wish me luck! And again, gratitudes for this blog! I’ll share it on my article about animal safety and heat dangers.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      I’m sorry to hear about your loss Maria 🙁

      Please let me know how you get on and if you have any other ‘summer cooling’ tips please share them so everyone can learn 🙂

      Claire

      • An. Norvell says

        We have two windows in our coop. The birds free range in the day. The door to the coop is a Dutch door with one of the Windows cut into the top. My husband framed in a box fan to draw air and create air flow. We close the top door and combined with the coop being shaded, it is actually pretty nice, even in 90+ temps. They like to hang under the back porch, so he put a fan under there too.

        • The Happy Chicken Coop says

          Hi An,

          Thank you for sharing this- I like the idea of the fans and air flow.

          Shade also makes a massive difference right!

          Glad your hens are having a ‘cool’ summer 🙂

          Claire

    • Mahamalisa "LISA" Smith says

      Please for the sake of your chickens go to a 99 cents store they have tarps that you can link together with zip-ties over their runs/coops then with bungees to stretch them over areas (it noticeably decreases the heat) and also have soaker/misters hoses cost me less than $10! I’m in palm springs, ca. It’s already been 120 degrees and these misters are a great help (i know 1st hand cause i’ve been under them building my own coop/hen house!) Water doesn’t have to be opened much and all-day my babies are doing great thank goodness! I’m only a mom for a year now raising chickens and don’t know much at all but this is a must for you in vegas trust me!

  2. Shannon says

    I actually freeze a water bottle then open it up stick it in their waterer, lasts longer than regular ice cubes.

    • Michele Elliott says

      Thank you! This is a GREAT idea! We live in Texas. It’s 81° today and it’s only March. I’m planning how to cool off our Sweetie Americauna hen.

  3. Melanie says

    My chickens refuse to eat any frozen cold foods :/ maryland is being hit with a heatwave and my poor chickens have their beaks open. Theres plenty of shade but their is so much huminity now. Ill try the mister but their afraid of water too (the hoose) ive iced their water and ill be placing more water bowls in just a bit.

    • Molly says

      Hi, I lI’ve in maryland too! With 6 chickens and 8 new chicks it’s a lot to keep the cool! Using a tarp to cover some of the pen would help, and I am going to try the mister and pool?it’s very hot out and I need more ideas too!?

      • The Happy Chicken Coop says

        I’m glad these tips helped you Molly!

        We have just published a new blog post on keeping chickens cool during summer with even more tips for you 🙂

        Claire

  4. Allison Dorris says

    I bought several quarts of blueberries at 99 cents. I put some blueberries in the freezer, then in a plastic dish (like for microwave dinners) then fill with water. They love this!!!

  5. Bill says

    I was raised on a farm, but I can’t remember how we took care of the chickens in the winter. the main thing I remember is shoveling out the coop.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Bill,

      That sounds about right 🙂 How about collecting the lovely fresh eggs!?

      Claire

  6. Tina McClenahan says

    I will try all these ideas, met poor girls today suffered. Their mouths were opens their wings spread. This breaks my heart. I have already lost two and can’t bear to lose another. 🙁

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Tina,

      Sorry to hear about your loss 🙁

      I really hope this article helps you,

      Claire

  7. Susan Shilling says

    I usually grow a garden every summer. Cut oversized cucumbers in half lengthwise, freeze them and give them a snack in the heat of the day.

  8. Rebecca Atkinson says

    Our chickens are free range and go into their coop at night. Recently we are erecting a new fence, so we have to keep them cooped til we finish. Probably a week. We live in south Texas so the temp runs from 92-96 degrees with a heat index around 105 .is it ok if I spray my chickens on low mist from the Waterhouse several times during the day?

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