Aug 192011

How To Keep Your Chickens Cool

Any weather extremes can be a challenge for any animals that have to live outside.   We all want our animals to be as comfortable as possible, but short of installing a heater for the winter and an air conditioner in the summer, sometimes there are limits to what you can do.

My chickens free range during the day and I lock them up at night in their chicken house to keep them safe.  One problem that I consistently have every summer is that most of the hens prefer to roost up in the barn or in the trees or even on top of the coop.  I don’t blame them for wanting to stay outside because even a properly ventilated chicken house is still very hot when the temperatures soar over 100 degrees.

Chickens, while not very smart, are very stubborn and they want what they want.  My chickens decided that they were happier outside.  At first, I tried rounding them up every night but, trying to catch these renegade chickens got to be a real chore so I just figured “what the heck” and started allowing them to stay out.

Boy was that a huge mistake. 

I lost two hens in one night to marauders!  I was so upset and I was back to rounding up all of the hens that decided to sleep outside and putting them back in their chicken run.

While this keeps them safe, the biggest problem that I’m facing is that they are hot and unhappy.   They were very vocal and restless. One poor hen keeps pacing for hours wanting to be let back out.  I decided enough was enough and something had to be done.

I talked to a contractor friend of mine and we went back to the drawing board.  While we originally thought there was enough ventilation, it obviously wasn’t enough.  Our approach was two fold.  We added bigger windows on two sides to increase air flow and then we added a small chicken run to accommodate the hens that want to sleep outside while keeping them safe at the same time.

We raised the height on one end of the chicken run and installed perches for the hens higher up closer to the windows for better air flow.  I’ve lost hens in the past when they were grabbed through the wire so I made sure to double fence this new area of the run to prevent that from happening.  We also added perches and one large dead tree branch that was perfect for perching so the chickens that preferred to be outside could sleep safely.

Now my hens are happy because they are cooler inside and anyone that wants to, can sleep outside where it is somewhat cooler.  I’m happy because they are safe and more comfortable.

As a side note, I also provide water is shallow rubber horse feeders.  This allows them to hop in and stand in the water when they want to.  Believe it or not, they do!  Many of them actually love it.

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