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Backyard Pet Chickens: 6 Tips for Beating the Heat

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Backyard Pet Chickens: 6 Tips for Beating the Heat
You can tell your backyard pet chickens are too hot when they hold their wings away from their bodies to help release heat; they may also pant with their beaks open to try to cool themselves off. But what can you do other than choose heat hardy breeds...  or move north? After all, while you may be willing to bring your dog or cat inside to huddle in the air conditioning with you,  most people are not interested in having their flock of backyard pet chickens in the house. I love chickens, mind you, but I don't want them roosting on my sofa, or flying up to the kitchen table to see what I'm doing! Having one chicken inside temporarily to recover from an injury is not akin to having a whole flock of backyard pet chickens in your house for the air conditioning. Plus, frankly, the chickens won't be too happy about going from foraging the lovely yard for bugs and greens, to foraging your carpet for lint and fuzz!

Here are our five best tips for helping your flock of backyard pet chickens beat the heat:

1. Make sure your chickens have plenty of  fresh water. Hens especially need to stay hydrated--it takes a lot of moisture to produce eggs, and they can easily get dehydrated on hot days, even if they're just without water for a few hours. Even being out of water briefly means they could be off laying for several days if not longer. If they're without water for a longer period in a heat wave like this, they could die from heat stress.

2. Make sure your chickens have access to shade in their run, especially during the hottest part of the day. Some runs have plenty of shade in the morning and evening when the sun is low, but little or none when the sun is high overhead in the middle of the day. If your run doesn't have adequate shade for your backyard pet chickens, consider rigging a tarp or setting up a gazebo tent to make sure they have somewhere to escape the beating sun!

3. Make sure your coop doesn't get too hot. Some coops heat up during the day like the inside of a car, so check to make sure ventilation is adequate. In very hot areas, it's common to have a three-sided coop, with the fourth wall made of secure welded wire like 1/2" hardware cloth. Some coops in extremely hot areas may have welded wire floors, as well. While being kept permanently on wire can cause foot problems for chickens, if they have a run and access to the ground during the day, it won't be a problem for your chickens the way it is in some factory farm situations where the chickens must stand hunched on wire 24/7. Your backyard pet chickens will roost at night off the wire, and during the day will spend time on the ground. However, this system won't work well if you also have cold, icy winters!

4. Keep your chickens' water cool with ice. Of course, you can simply put ice cubes directly into their waterers, but remember, the larger the block of ice, the longer it will take to melt, so using blocks of ice is usually a better idea than small cubes. Make sure ahead of time that what you are using will fit into your waterer, though. You can buy cold packs and use those, or you can "make your own" by freezing water in plastic bottles. Place your commercial or DIY cold pack  in your backyard pet chickens ' waterer.  You can also simply freeze blocks of ice in clean cartons (such as a small paper milk carton), peel away the carton for a black of ice to add to their waterer. Be creative!

5. Offer frozen or refrigerated foods to your backyard pet chickens as a treat in the heat. Chickens especially love refrigerated watermelon---and it's so high in moisture that it also helps keep them hydrated. Frozen grapes or berries are also good choices, as is frozen corn. Be sure to offer any treats in moderation, as always---and also try to to offer the treats in the shade. Don't make your chickens come out from the shade in order to get something that will cool them off!

6. Use a mister... or avoid using one! In some circumstances, a mister works well. In others... not so much. If you live in a dry area such as the desert southwest, a pet mister can really help keep your flock cool. By contrast, if it's very humid in your area, a mister can cause problems. Misters work by cooling the air as the water quickly evaporates, but if it's very humid in your area, the mist will not evaporate, but will simply create a muddy mess and increase overall mugginess. Mud and moisture also serve as a breeding ground for insects and bacteria, and in some cases, invite the growth molds and mildews. If your area is too humid for a mister, consider getting a small kiddie pool and filling it with an inch or so of ice-cooled water during the heat of the day. Most chickens will enjoy chilling their feet in the cool water, and you can dump out the water at the end of the day (reuse it in your garden or for your landscaping) to keep it fresh.

What are your tips for keeping your flock of backyard pet chickens cool in the heat?

1 comment

Use a fan 💡

elizabeth

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