Tips and Tricks to Help Your Chickens During Hot Weather
Written and Contributed by: Jennifer Morotini
Edited and Published by: Kelli Stewart, Pet Chickens of Virginia Association
June 10, 2022
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Welcome to Spring in Virginia –
it might be 97 degrees outside, or it might be 60. It might rain, there might be a drought. A thunderstorm might roll in out of nowhere, or you might get caught in the spontaneous hailstorm. Virginia weather is unpredictable at best. What we can all agree on is that when it’s hot, our chickens need some extra TLC.
Tip #1: Shade
Make sure your birds have a shaded area where they can get out of the sun. If your birds are anything like mine, they love a good sunbathing session, but when they’re hot, they want somewhere to relax.
Whether it’s natural or man-made shade, either will work for your feathered friends. Mine have a coop with a run, and altogether they have about an acre to roam about freely.
In this space, their coop is completely covered and shaded. They share a space with my goats and love to scratch around under trees or hang out in the goat pens. We also have a few “toys” our goats use to jump or lay on, and the chickens have used the shading from these to create their own dust baths.
Since the sun moves throughout the day, I like to make sure that there are numerous shaded spots, so I know at every point during the day there is somewhere they can go.
Tip #2: Ice Treats
My husband says I treat my birds better than I treat him. I feel that’s a slight exaggeration, but I do put a lot of effort into making sure my boys and girls have cool treats during the hotter weather.
Ice treats are one of the best frozen treats because it serves multiple purposes. These treats are not only a way to keep the birds cool, it’s also a good way to keep them entertained. They love having something to peck at, and the ice is a great temperature regulator.
To make these, I get a freezer-safe baking dish. I fill it with apples and lettuce, then fill it with water and freeze the dish overnight. The next day, when I’m ready to treat my flock, I make sure to turn it upside and run some warm water over the dish (this helps to free it from the sides of the dish without cracking it). I throw the block to my birds, and they go to town.
Tip #3: Frozen Fruit Snacks
These are a favorite among my flock, and super easy to prepare. To make frozen fruit snacks I take fruits that when frozen will end up with a popsicle-like consistency.
My favorites are: blueberries, grapes, watermelon, and cantaloupe. For the melons, I cut into bite-sized pieces, then put the fruit in a bowl or Tupperware. I freeze the fruit for a few hours (just long enough that it is a hard texture that I can no longer squish if I’m holding it).
When it’s frozen, I take the fruit out to the birds and toss it into their run. They absolutely love it!
Tip #4: Fan
To some, this seems a little over-the-top. My husband loves to say “what did chickens used to do before electricity?” True, but if I can make them more comfortable, I will.
We have a box fan and an extension cord that reaches to our coop. If it is extremely hot, I will set up a chair outside the coop and run the fan at night or for my broody girls that aren’t moving.
I make sure the cord is somewhere outside of the coop so that they can’t mess with it. I also make sure the fan is set up on a chair or something, completely out of the way, where it poses no harm if it accidently falls over.
Tip #5: Fresh Water
This is something that should be pretty routine for chicken owners, especially during the summer. Much like any other water sitting out in the sun, it gets hotter as the temperature rises.
I have multiple water buckets for my birds, and many days I will refill them halfway through the day to cool the water down. (As a teacher on summer break, I have that time – I know many people don’t).
If I’m not able to refill their water with cooler water throughout the day, I make sure that they have fresh cold water in the morning. I used to refill at night, but found that by morning, the water was already lukewarm, and it got very hot as the day progressed. By using cold water in the morning, it stays colder longer.
Tip #6: Cooling Water
Some people like to get baby pools for their chickens to hop in and cool off. I’ve found that my birds want no part of this. However, they love a sprinkler or a muddy spot.
One thing I do to help cool my birds is give them a little sprinkler action. I’ll turn on my rainbow sprinkler (the kind that goes back and forth slowly, not the kind that will shoot water laser beams at my birds), and they will run into it, then run away. Then run into it, then run away. They like the movement as well as the opportunity to cool down.
They also love a good mud spot. Some days I’ll take the hose and just create a mud spot. The cool water gives them something nice to stand in, and they really like pecking and digging around in the freshly created mud.
Tip #7: Limit Corn
Corn is a natural heater – it will raise your chicken’s body temperature simply by them eating it. Because of this, corn should be used sparingly, and only as a treat every now and then.
Hopefully these helpful hints can give you some new, fun ways to gear up for summertime with your flock. Treating your birds isn’t something that has to break the bank or take up too much time. Finding simple ways to keep them cool and happy is the key, and they will love you for it!
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