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.
Want even more treat ideas? Visit our chicken treat chart here.
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.
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.
How to Keep Your Chickens Cool During Summer
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.
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!
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 coop floor.
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 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.
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 how you get on in the comments and if you have any other clever ways to keep your chickens cool during the summer.
8. Different Breeds – Different Results
Not all breeds are created equal and if you know you live in a climate that often sees extreme temperatures, be sure to research which breeds can handle the heat a bit better than the rest of the flock.
Here are a few breeds that are little more sun-loving than others:
Even though these breeds tend to fair well in hot temperatures, there’s always a boiling point.
In other words, it’s always possible for your chickens to be too hot.
9. Give them Some Breeze
In hot temps, a barn box fan will do wonders for your panting poultry.
And if you need something quick, look for the best area on your property that offers even the slightest breeze, and move your flock to it.
Just make sure that you keep their enclosure in a shaded area and provide enough shade to make the relocation worth it.
Chickens in the Summer FAQs
How Hot Is Too Hot for Chickens?
If temperatures get close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, like here in South Florida, chickens can be at risk of heat exhaustion.
You should be taking measures to keep them cool when temperatures get between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s why these different methods work great if you live in one of those climates!
What Do I Do If My Chickens Are In Extreme Heat?
The most important thing you need to do before anything else is make sure they have access to clean uncontaminated water.
After that you can use any of the above-mentioned methods to keep your chickens cool.
How To Keep Chickens Cool In The Summer Summary
Well there you have it! 9 different ideas on how to keep chickens cool in the summer. Let us know in the comments if you have any other ideas!
Especially in certain regions, chickens are prone to heat exhaustion. I know they are here in South Florida, that’s why we have plenty of shade for them around their coop.
56 thoughts on “7 Ways To Keep Your Chickens Cool During Summer”
Isn’t there a risk of chickens drowning in the baby pool?
You need to make sure the water isn’t too deep! A couple of inches is plenty for them 🙂
I got my chickens a pool but they won’t use it. I keep a large box fan running to keep them cool
The mister was the ticket…my chicks thank you!!!!!!
I thought chickens got sick when they were wet?
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,
I live in mid Florida and have 2 Buff Orpingtons and they stay out of their coop in the middle of some super heavy rain storms and get soaked…haven’t gotten sick yet! 😉
To the OP: I really like the frozen water jugs idea!! Thank you! We have an empty deep freezer so I’m going to freeze 10 jugs for my poor girls. I will keep 5 in the pen and then alternate them all day and freeze them again all night! Ours are in a shady spot, but it is so darn hot here in Florida already. Ugh…
We live in the lower south western part of Florida and the High Heat with humidity has always been a deep concern for keeping our hens comfortable.
We have put up a green mesh shade garden netting barrier on 75% our chicken run screen walls and screened top areas. This mesh is very durable, you can see through it and breathes freely to let air in and out. This provides much more shade in our run area. This mesh also protects our hens and run area from the heavy or light rains. Our hens feel even more protected when they are inside the coop/run. We bought a large roll ((4′ x 100′) for $25.00 a store like Lowe’s or Home Depot.
We also have a small double wall fan inserted in our chicken coop/nesting box that we run 24/7 at low or medium for our hens comfort along with keeping all windows open.
I love the idea of using frozen gallon water jugs. We’re going to give that a try.
Also going to try putting 2-3″ of water in our kiddie swimming pool with ice cubes or a frozen jug of water and some herbs floating on top and hope the hens will check it out and enjoy themselves.
What we do to keep their water dispensers with cool water all day is we put the frozen blue ice blocks (like the ones for coolers and lunch containers) in a sealed tight plastic bag of some kind and put it in the water containers where they sort of like float. This gives our girls lots of refreshing cool water to drink throughout the day.
From what I gathered it’s winter and them being wet that’s a problem, they put off quite a bit of body heat so even in winter you want ventilation so they stay dry so the cold air and moisture don’t mix
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.
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
Your ideas sound great for chickens. We totally agree with free range when possible. We have an upper-lower Dutch door on our coop/run entrance also. Your window in the top door sounds great.
What my hubby did for our Dutch doors is he framed the doors out with wood frame and secured stapled chicken wire for the inside portions for each door. This lets air in and out with the good security for our girls.
Wow! these tips are great. maybe I should have read this before i lost 7 baby chicks in the heat.
I learned a lesson that day constant water for the chickens.
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!
We use frozen liter bottles and smaller water bottles in their water containers and a box fan. Works great. Also in Amazon electrolyte and vitamin supplement to in the water container. Works great. We live in northern Can were we hot 100 plus heat days.
So glad your using Electrolytes for your girls water. We got some electrolytes from Amazon also for a decent price and this stuff has got my chickens laying eggs again along with bringing their health back.
We got some probiotic feed from Amazon also to help prevent parasites and worms from developing in our girls. We also put apple cider vinegar (1 TBLS / 1 Gallon) in one of their other water dispensers.
I actually freeze a water bottle then open it up stick it in their waterer, lasts longer than regular ice cubes.
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.
Using frozen water bottles sounds cheaper and easier than using the blue ice packs that I have been using.
Thanks for this cool and refreshing tip!
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.
There are a few other ways to cool your hens down. We go into more detail in our new article:
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!?
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 🙂
My chickens hate water and the hose but they love the misters. Try the misters they are awesome. I ran them under the overhang of my barn and my hens free range all day and hang under there with my Stallions. In the coup I have frozen bottles of water in the nest boxes.
Try some frozen corn, and give them time to get used to cold foods. Once your flock leader tries it, the rest will follow her example.
In Arizona, Adobe bricks in a tub of shallow water does the trick. The chickens rest on the damp cool bricks as needed. My chickens also hate water/misters.
We give our girls the frozen fruit treat cupcakes that have blueberries, strawberries (cut up), and banana slices mixed with water to freeze together and our girls love to pick at these and cool off. I’m pretty sure this idea came from the frozen treat recipes on this Happy Chicken Coop website.
We also give our girls a thick slice of watermelon and or papaya and they finish these off in a day. They get lots of vitamins and minerals also.
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!!!
Yes! Best Idea Ever!
Happy your girls are cooling off in a such a pleasurable way!
I lost my Prized rooster and my Olive Egger hen to the heat yesterday. ABSOLUTELY broke my heart!!!
I’m so sorry to hear this Dawn 🙁
I am so sorry… I lost three of my sweet babies today in CA… I am broken over it! They had plenty of shade and water… just too hot… my husband installed misters at 10pm in the dark… hoping this helps the rest of my babies!
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.
That sounds about right 🙂 How about collecting the lovely fresh eggs!?
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. 🙁
Sorry to hear about your loss 🙁
I really hope this article helps you,
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.
Thank you for sharing Susan 🙂
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?
Absolutely, they will probably thank you for it!
I have been so worried how to keep our chicken cool as the temperature today was 98 in our shady back yard in Austin, Texas. (It is much hotter away from our home) We bought a fan last weekend and set it up to blow, during the day, into the run from the outside of the chickenwire. What has really made all the difference is at night. At 8PM it was still 95° outside but inside, all around, where my hen sleeps, I layed freezer packs against the walls. They don’t condensate as they “melt” and the best part. ..lowered the temperature 20°!! It took only 20 minutes to go to 75°! It has been almost 2 hours and the temperature has lowered outside to 88 but in the coop it’s now 71°. I finally found a solution to this amazing heat!
They don’t peck at them?
We are new to raising chickens. Our coup is on relatives property, which unfortunately he passed away last month. We werent worried while he was there, but have a dilemma living 45 minutes away now. We have been going 3 days a week to tend to them, which was ok until the heat hit! Today it was 109. We have 14 chicks and 2 turkeys . We have two automatic water bowls and one big feeder.
But the poor little things were panting when we got there. I hosed down the ground, and the bales of hay around the outside parimeter.
When we left, they were much more comfortable. No panting and beaks closed. Whew!
They have shade but when there’s no breeze, it worries me. I think I’ll try the frozen liters, and will check into a mister and ice cubes in their water.
Thank you for the ideas.
Hey, wanted to see if you have ideas for me. Using a metal grate of sorts as part of our run, altering it a bit, adding a wood/metal roof, do you know of any coating or have any ideas to help the meal from getting too hot? White paint?
My girls love Watermelon! I usually cut it up before I take it to their shady spots but today it was so hot in Florida I took the hole melon out and they were already pecking at it before I could get it cut open! I have box fans and a tornado fan in their coop and it keeps it very comfortable. Going to get a mister soon. I spray the areas of the yard and run where they dust bathe and they like that.
I’m so glad i read this before i got chickens!! I live in AZ. It gets cold at night, but hot in the day, so I dont know what to do
About 3 pm I start misting our chickens an making sure they have good cold fresh water. I also so mist them real wet for about 1 to 2 min each . I’m from the south , gulf Vt actually. I do this every couple of days . Do you think this will hurt the chickens. My husband says it not good but they seem to like it . The ground drys guick . What do you think . I just won’t to make sure they are ok
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This entry was posted in Chickens and tagged Backyard Chickens, chicken heat stress, chicken heat stroke, chickens, chickens in summer .
What type of free standing parasol? Where do you get them?
l have silkies can you use the water mist on them
It rose to a heat index of 120 in TX last summer, so my husband and I bought a very large dog crate and put our 3 girls inside it in the laundry room in the afternoons until it lowered again to around 102 heat index. They got to where they would march up to the back porch and wait at the door for us to let them inside. They did their little chickie prance around the corner and directly to the cage in the laundry room! Although still very hot outside, it was livable for them in the shade; we hosed down the area under the bushes where they liked to sleep, and let the water keep dripping down from the leaves of the canopy. We also put electrolytes in their water, and gave them chilled, but not frozen, watermelon, cucumber — any fruit with lots of water in it. Sometimes, though, only air conditioning will keep them from suffering so. I don’t think they’d have survived if we hadn’t brought them in.
If your window fan needs a light, then you can purchase the white ones or the stained glass ones. For the sake of space, let us focus on the bottom-mounted fans.