The hot season is around the corner and your hens must make it through to the next season. So, are you wondering how to keep chickens cold in summer?
Hot weather is not just a threat to you but to your flock too. If temperatures exceed 95 degrees F, your chickens risk ill health or even death.
Not all chickens will do well in hot weather especially those breeds that do well in cold weather. However, if enough shaded areas and cold drinking water is provided they can do well.
In this article, I am going to take you through some of the best tips to keep your chickens cold when summer comes.
How do you tell chickens are hot in summer heat?
Fluffy chickens with dense feathers will easily suffer from heat stress when taken to the tropics. Equally, some breeds like naked necks will die of cold and frostbites because they will freeze to death in polar zones.
So, how can you tell that your chickens are suffering from excess heat?
- Chickens will pant heavily with their beaks open.
- They will drop their feathers to allow plenty of cold air to get in.
- Egg production will decrease due to heat stress.
- Decreased appetite
- Discolored combs and wattles
If you see the above signs in your chickens, then know that they are suffering from unusual high temperatures that pose risk to them.
However, there are simple ways that you can keep chickens cold. Some of these ways include:
1 Provide plenty of cold drinking water
One of the best and cheapest ways to lower the body temperatures of chickens is by providing enough cold drinking water.
Cold water will be refreshing and chickens will be well hydrated. Throwing some ice cubes in the water is a cold way to make it a little bit cold.
However, very cold water is not good especially for baby chicks. Although they need to cool down, it is good you ask yourself how cold is too cold for chickens.
Place their drinking water in shaded areas away from direct sun. Putting your chicken waterers under the sun will have the water heated and turned warm.
2 Cold treats will help
When it is hot, we always look for something cold to help cool the bodies. Additionally, Chickens will be happy if something cold will be tossed to them.
A frozen piece of watermelon, pineapple, zucchini or those tasty strawberries will do a good job. These treats will not only cool your hen breeds down but supplement their diets with some extra nutrients.
Do not mind to fill your chicken feeder with frozen treats. However, do not forget that treats should only be offered o chickens in moderation.
3 Avoid foods that will warm them up
Although treats and certain foods are good for chickens, some foods will add more heat in their bodies when eaten.
These foods are good on a cold winter night because they will heat your chickens up a little bit to face the cold night.
Some types of herbs and peppers will also make their bodies produce more heat when eaten. Try to feed foods that will lower their body temperature and help them cool down.
4 Shaded areas
Shade is a very cheap means to keep your chickens cool. On a hot day, a good shade especially outside the chicken coop will do wonders.
The cool outside breeze will help cool down as they relax waiting for dusk. My Dorking chickens will prefer to roost on the short branches when the sun is hot.
You can create additional shade by draping black shade cloth between trees, fences and chicken coops for them to have enough areas to shelter.
5 Ventilate the coops
Ventilations are very important because they allow free air circulation. Normally, hot stale air will rise and escape out allowing cold fresh air to get in.
You can put hawk netting on the coop walls to allow air circulate easily. If you have a wooden coop, ensure the ventilations are high near the roof to let the rising hot air out.
The openings you put inside the coop should be predator proof to keep chickens safe and well secured from attacks.
Consider adding a fan inside the chicken coop if you live in an area connected to electricity. This will help create a cold environment for your hens.
Do not let the birds overcrowd. Overcrowding will make the situation worse because the birds release body heat making it too hot for them.
6 Put a thin layer of bedding
Although chicken bedding is good to keep of cold especially where the floor is made of concrete, the case is opposite on hot days.
A thick layer of bedding and chicken poop will start to decompose and release more heat because of microbial activities. Decomposing bedding has been known to even cause a fire in the coop.
Thick beddings are a good way to keep chicken coops warm in cold winters. When hot, do not let the bedding layer be thicker than 2 inches.
7 Raise the coop
From our science, the higher you go the cooler it becomes. Raising the coops will allow cold air form high above the ground cool the birds.
Some farmers build storied coops and move the birds on the highest floor when it is hot. This allows a cool breeze of fresh air keep them cold.
8 Frozen chicken feeds
Imagine how frozen ice cream will make you feel refreshed on a hot sunny day. That is the same feeling your hens will have if they eat cold food on a summer day.
Cold chicken feeds will help cool down their bodies and drive out some heat. This way, the feeds become more appetizing to eat.
However the food should be nutritionally balanced to give them all the nutrients they require for healthy growth and development.
9 Allow them to dust bath
Just like the way a cold shower or dunking yourself in the swimming pool cools you, chicken dirt bath will cools your hens.
It is very common to see chickens scratch and hurl themselves on the dirt. This mainly happens when it is hot as a way of cooling their fluffy bodies.
Put enough amount of sand in a large basin and place it under a cool shade. Hens will rush to play in it without a doubt.
10 Take them to swim
Let your favorite Silkie rooster enjoy that cold swimming pool with you. Chickens are good swimmers and will move inside the pool like they are used to it.
As they swim, pool water will come into contact with their bodies and help cool them. However, do not let chickens swim without your presence.
They may overstay in water and chill to death. In addition to this, pool water contains added chemicals like chlorine which can be toxic to their bodies.
11 Dunk chickens in cold water
This is very common to swimming except that you are going to dip them in small amounts of water put in a basin.
Dunking will help cool their bodies very well. As the water evaporates from the chicken feathers, it will leave a nice cooling effect taking away some heat.
However, it is good that you don’t dunk them in very cold water. This may chill them or lead to serious health issues.
Tap water will just be fine on a hot day. In most cases, this water will be heated by the sun and will be cool enough for the birds.
12 Mist them
Misting chickens when the weather is very hot is very healthy. This involves spraying them with cold water to cool their bodies.
This method will only work with adult chickens and not chicks. Also, avoid making the bedding wet because it may lead to dump coop.
Mist the area around chickens and chicken coops. As this water escapes to the air through evaporation, it carries some heat away leaving a nice cooling effect.
Keeping chickens cool in summer is very important just as it is keeping them warm in winter. These birds totally rely on us for care and support.
There are many ways to keep your friendly hen breeds cool. However, not all the methods are good for baby chickens.
Remember that chicks are not able to regulate their own body temperature making them very vulnerable to both cold and hot temperatures.
Cool chickens in summer are happy and happy chickens are healthy and productive.