Wow–I live in the town where I was born and raised, and never, I mean NEVER have I seen it hit 101 before July 4 (and rarely after). When I was a young girl, the marketing slogan for our town was “Cool, Green Asheville.” Once global warming hit, that advertising pitch was soon replaced. (And if you don’t believe in global warming, don’t get me started on how we had no snow days this year.)
This past weekend, I fretted over my 2-month-old hens. With the morning sun and humidity raising the temperature to 85 by the time I turned them out at 11am, I knew they’d soon wilt if I didn’t take good care.
I Spent some time doing some research and thought I’d share a few tips with you. Remember, heat is actually harder on
chickens than cold so it is important to monitor your flock.
1. Make sure the coop has plenty of ventilation–they need airflow in their safe/sleeping space
2. Make sure you have enough shade available–even if your coop is under a tree, the sun may filter in. Throw a tarp over part of the run if needed.
3. Keep plenty of cool water available for drinking–not only do I add ice cubes to mine, but I found that just filling the big mason jar with ice in itself kept a nice, steady flow of cool water filling the basin.
4. They need air flow so if it is hot and still, provide a fan. I’ve seen folks use small clip-on fans like you’d buy for an office or dorm room.
5. Make your own “air conditioning” by putting water in milk jugs and freezing then setting in the coop to give off cooler air. I did read where someone suggested not to blow a fan directly on/across it as it may blow condensation on the chickens.
6. I’ve read mixed reviews on baby pools with shallow (a couple of inches) water–some folks say their chickens get a bit flustered but others have noted how much their chickens like it. It’s important, however, not to make the water too cold.
7. Speaking of water, some have also suggested using misters in the run. I’m thinking this could get a bit expensive, but I appreciate that care of our animals is very important. In an attempt to go the cheap route, don’t think about turning your hose on your birds. Can’t imagine what kind of therapy they might need after that.
8. Replace solid doors with hardware “fabric” or some other secure mesh.
9. Feed your chickens cold watermelon or berries. Mine have loved eating the wineberries right off the bushes so I put some in the fridge for a cool afternoon snack.
10. Place a bag of ice or ice packs in a dog crate (that’s what I use) or a plastic bin turned over on its side to provide a cooling room.
11. Make sure they can access dirt which will cool them off. Too much mulch and such only holds in the heat.
So, as the dog days of summer start barking at your door, take extra precaution with your chickens. And, oh yeah, don’t forget to get those eggs out of the nesting boxes sooner rather than later. If it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, then imagine what the heat can do to an egg left in a nesting box too long. Shoo!!