Keeping chickens cool in the summer

Keeping chickens cool in the summer is a priority if you want a happy and healthy flock. I want to share a few easy tips to ensure your chickens don’t overheat this summer.

How hot is too hot for chickens?

A chickens body temperature is around 104 F. It is much easier for them to warm their bodies up than it is to cool them down. Chickens need shade during the warmer months. Direct sunlight can cause them to overheat and possibly result in death. Chickens like other animals have natural instincts that will help them to regulate their body temperature like scratching down into the cool ground to make a hole to lie in and relax. You may even see them stretching out their wings to catch a cool breeze which is the cutest to watch but could be an indicator that they are under stress.

chickens dust bathing in the shade under a bush
No they aren’t dead. Just keeping cool under my butterfly bushes.

Warning signs of heat stress

  • panting/rapid breathing
  • wings outstretched
  • pale combs & wattles
  • increase drinking & less eating
  • diarrhea
  • lethargy

5 ways to keep chickens cool in the summer

1. Choose the right breed

Obviously if you already have chickens there’s nothing you can do about this now, but if you’re just considering purchasing a flock, you’ll want to make sure your breed is tolerant to the heat in your area. This is why I recommend buying local. Your local farm store will only sell breeds that can tolerate the heat where you live. If you live in a warmer climate like we do here in middle Georgia, you’ll want to make sure you buy breeds with a larger combs and wattles. Remember, chickens can tolerate cold much better than heat.

2. Provide shade

This is the easiest and most basic way to ensure your flock doesn’t overheat. You’ll want to make sure that your coop has some shade to protect from the heat. If your chickens free range, you’ll need to make sure they can get out of direct sunlight. Shade cloth is very affordable and can be used around your property to provide a place for your flock to get out of the direct sunlight if you don’t have a naturally shaded area.

3. Cold water

Did you know that chickens will not drink hot water? If given the option, chickens will choose no water over water that is too warm. It’s important that you give your flock fresh cool water daily and make sure their water is kept in a shady location. One trick I like to use is to drop a frozen water bottle in the watering container on especially hot days. Each day when I go out to change the water I take out the previous days bottle to refreeze and replace it with a freshly frozen bottle. You can also add electrolytes to the water if you notice any signs of heat stress.

ice cube tray filled with strawberries and mint

4. Frozen treats

Frozen treats are such a fun way to keep your chickens cool in the summertime temps. This is a project my girls love to help with. Just add bits of strawberries or watermelon to an ice cube tray and fill with water. Freeze and add these treats to your flocks menu on hot days.

5. Add cold foods to their diet

Consider adding cold fruits such as pineapple, watermelon, and strawberries to their diet. These fruits contain a lot of water and will help keep you chickens hydrated. Plus, they will love you for it! My hens love to see my approaching with a watermelon rind! This is just another way to keep your chickens cool in the summer.

chickens keeping cool in the summer by eating watermelon

I like to check on my flock twice a day to make sure they have plenty of water and to address any concerns. Summer temperatures can cause a lot of trouble to your flock. Being aware and prepared are key in helping your flock stay cool this summer!

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