There are different things you need to think about when it comes to caring for chickens in the summer, or different seasons in general. The different weather and climates of your area are some of the things to take into consideration when picking out a chicken breed.
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Caring for Chickens in the Summer
We are going through a heatwave here right now which makes this post timely. As you can guess keeping fresh water on hand for your chickens is going to be extremely important in the summer, just like it is for humans and other animals.
Chickens dissipate excess heat from their combs, wattles, beaks, and feet. Meaning, any surface area that isn’t covered in their built-in down jackets! Therefore, chicken breeds with large combs and wattles are able to cool themselves more readily than those with small peacombs.
Signs of Heat Stress
- panting – breathing with beak open and tongue moving up and down
- standing with wings out, away from the body
- decreased appetite
- pale or discolored waddles and/or combs
Ways to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer
This is one of the most simple but crucial measures. Ensure that your chickens have a shady space to retreat on hot days. Create additional shade by draping a black shade cloth over the run. Another option is to string one of these cool shade canopies between posts, fences, or trees.
Cold Fresh Water
Provide a constant supply of cold fresh water. On the hottest days, that may mean refreshing their water a few times per day. Some chicken keepers add ice to their chicken waterers to keep them cool. Keep their waterers in a shady and readily accessible location.
Provide cold, refreshing, high-moisture treats such as watermelon and other fruits and veggies.
Try freezing some treats! We like to give our girls frozen peas, corn, watermelon chunks, and chopped frozen strawberries on hot days.
Ventilate the Coop
It is always recommended to provide good ventilation inside a chicken coop, but even more so in hot conditions. Ensure the coop has screened (but predator-proof!) openings that allow for a nice cross-breeze.
Keep the Coop Clean
During hot conditions, keep the coop as clean and tidy as possible. Reduce the bedding layer inside the coop to no more than 2 inches deep to prevent trapping in heat. Some chicken keepers use a “deep litter” method, which allows the bedding material (and chicken excrement) to form a deep pile on the coop floor. The built-up material acts as an extra layer of insulation in the coop.
Adding moisture to the air or ground around the coop and run will lower the surrounding temperature. As airborne water droplets evaporate, it immediately cools the air.