We still have a lot of Summer left to get through. Do you know how well your flock is holding up? Believe it or not, chickens can tolerate the extreme cold better than they can tolerate the extreme heat. With that being said it is a good idea to take some extra steps to keep your chickens cooler this summer.
Egg production naturally takes a lot of water from the hens body. So it is especially important in the Summer to keep fresh, clean, cold water available. Traditional water founts are great to have year round, but it is also beneficial to add some shallow tubs of water to your coops. This allows more hens to gather around to drink at once. It’s easy to keep clean and you can add big frozen chunks of ice to the shallow tubs to keep the water colder for your girls.
Most hens will also enjoy standing in the shallow tubs. Simply wetting their feet can help to keep their body temperature down. Chickens do not like to get completely wet. Having soaking wet feathers also prevents them from being able to “fluff out” and cool their bodies.
Plenty of shade is a must for chickens. If you don’t have a lot of trees or bushes around your coop you can add a shade cloth to block some sun. Shade cloth is a breathable mesh (much like a screen door) tarps can be fine in some cases, as long as they are not blocking valuable air flow around your coop. Shade cloth allows the breeze to still get through to your birds.
Adding electrolytes to their water will also help your chickens to cope with the extreme heat. A Vitamin & Electrolyte supplement added to their water will help them to stay hydrated and healthy.
Chickens love a good dust bath any time of year! In the heat of the summer giving your girls a place to scratch down into the cool dust and roll around is a welcome treat. You can also add a little poultry dust to the dirt and as they roll around they will be treating themselves for mites and other insects as they cool down.
Watermelon, Strawberries, Cucumber slices, Blueberries, Peas and corn are all great to give to your girls frozen or chilled. You can freeze small berries or veggies in ice cube trays and add them to the water tubs, or just place the frozen treats in a dish and let them pick away and cool down.
What you need to do if your Chicken is too hot.
Heat exhaustion in poultry can be a pale comb, standing with her eyes closed, unsteady on her feet or even laying down. If you have a bird you think is getting too hot you need to get her someplace cooler right away, place just her feet in cold water to bring her temperature down. Do not “dunk” or get her whole body wet. Offer her cool water to drink with some electrolytes (Gatorade or Pedialyte will work in a pinch)
We hope these tips will help your flock stay cool and comfortable the rest of the Summer! As always, you can find water founts, tubs, electrolytes and more at Woodard Mercantile!