Q: What should I do if my chickens get too hot? Will they die?
A: Well, yes, they could... if your chickens are unable to cool themselves, they could seize and die. How can you tell if your flock is in distress? Hot chickens will pant with beaks open.
They'll also ruffle their feathers and hold their wings out to try to cool themselves.
Just because a chicken is hot, though, doesn't mean she's going to die, so don't panic. But do take a few precautions during heat waves. First, make sure they have access to shade and fresh water at all times. Dust bathing can cool them, too, so give them plenty of room to roam and make sure they're NOT stuck in a wire-bottom cage. Low-sided water dishes are a great help as well. When a hen begins to overheat, she can wade in the water to cool off through her feet.
You can also feed them a quarter or half of a cold watermelon . They'll dive bomb it! It's like injecting them with a cooling solution -- they'll feel better in no time. On hot days, they also enjoy frozen grapes, frozen corn, and frozen peas.
You can even freeze simple kitchen scraps (leftovers, apple cores, etc.), grasses, and other treats overnight, to be given to your flock the next day.
We recommend using metal chafing dishes as they won't crack in the freezer and make a mess. The metal also makes it easy to remove the ice block, and they are easy to clean. When the temperature goes up, you can toss out a treat cube to the flock!
The tasty treats inside the ice will entice your hens to peck at the cool block-- while the smartest of your hens may even stand on top or lay next to the ice block to keep cool.