Chicken Care In The Summer
It is mid June here in Kentucky and the temperature is expected to soar into the mid 90’s this week. Most of us humans can retreat to our air conditioned homes to get out of the heat. But what about caring for backyard chickens when it is hot?
While I would not suggest that you take them inside or even provide them with an air conditioned coop, you do need to take some steps to make sure that they don’t suffer needlessly and possibly die. If you haven’t built your chicken coop yet, I would strongly recommend that you pick and area that has some shade, especially during the hottest part of the day. However, most of the time you will realize this too late or maybe you don’t have any shady areas where you can locate your chicken coop. So, what can you do to provide shade and keep your flock protected?
Shade For Your Flock
A friend of mine had this problem. Her chicken coop was located in an area that got no shade at all. Now, her backyard chickens free range but they had their nesting boxes in the coop and they would often be sitting in there panting like crazy. It would also still be extremely hot when the chickens went to bed for the night since it would bake all day. They were just miserable. She ended up purchasing three Shade Sail Canopies and they work great. They hang them in the spring and them take them down in the winter. They are easy to hang, provide great shade and turned out to be very durable as they lasted for years before they had to be replaced. They also help hide the chickens from flying predators which was an unplanned for advantage.
She also planned ahead and planted some trees, bushes and tall grasses that grew tall around the chicken coop. It has taken a few years, but now the chicken coop has some natural shade that has improved the overall look of the area around the chicken coop. The bushes also provide some cover for the chickens to lounge around under during the heat of the day and also provides some predator protection for them. She planted varieties that stay green year round so there is a touch of green no matter what the season. They also provide a wind break in the winter and snow tends to not accumulate under them either so the chickens can hide under them year round.
Water Your Flock
Your chickens will go through even more water than normal when it is hot. Be sure and change the water often as it will go bad quickly, especially if they kick food into it. My chickens love to play in the water too and cool off. I put out shallow rubber horse feeders and filled them with water. It was hilarious to watch them hop in a either just stand there or in some cases, splash around. They really enjoyed it and it was a great way for them to stay cool. Some of my braver chickens even stood on the edge of the sprinkler when it was out and got misted.
Chicken Coop Ventilation
One way to keep your hens cool when the weather is hot is to make sure that your chicken coop is properly ventilated. I have vents installed along the top of the chicken coop and I have screened doors installed so that air flow through it all the time. This keeps it cooler and keeps the coop dry as well which will make for healthier chickens.
Enjoy The Heat
I try not to worry about my ladies too much because the heat sure is a welcome break from the long, cold winter that we had. They don’t seem to stress out too much and they know when they need to crash under a tree or bush and take a nap for awhile. Keep an eye out for any hen or rooster that seems unusually lethargic though because they can experience heat stroke the same as you or me. Caring for backyard chickens when it is hot is just simple common sense.