Chicken Keeping in Triple Digits

 

Gavin Flock, tbnranch.com

Surviving Phoenix, Arizona

Shade is hard to come by in Phoenix,  but not impossible if you’re creative. If your chickens are in a small coop they are unlikely to survive triple digit temperatures, I know that sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true.  June will most likely exceed 110, that means 120+ in the coop, and that’s a death sentence.

TBN Ranch, Phoenix, AZ

Your birds will fair well in temperatures up to 105 if they are not confined, have shade, and a place to dig a hole in the dirt. Make sure they have cool water available, if the water is too hot they won’t drink enough to stay hydrated. Make it easy on yourself, use buckets instead of those chicken drinkers that are impossible to clean and a big hassle to fill.

When temperatures reach over 105 in the shade it’s time to introduce a fan to the chicken yard.  I don’t use anything fancy, a $15.00 box fan will do the trick. Hang it from a fence (wreath hangers work nicely) or anyplace where it won’t tip over. Your birds will stand in front that fan like they were watching a movie!

Gavin Flock, Summer 2011

June and July are the worst months for excessive heat, 110 -115+ and this is when you really have to stay on top of your chicken keeping responsibilities. Mist systems help cool the air, especially with a fan to keep the air moving. I like the standing misters ($10.)  that attach to a hose. Place it right in the chicken yard, dig up a small area near it so the moisture forms a little mud pool for the birds.

If you free feed your chickens, don’t in summer.  Feed produces heat, so feed early morning and just before they return to the coop at night.  Never offer scratch feed in summer, it’s a hot feed and completely unsuitable  for your feathered desert dwellers.

During the afternoons, offer your flock a watermelon, or a head of lettuce, this will help keep them hydrated.

Gavin Flock, Summer 2011

Danger Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Pale comb and wattles is the first sign of trouble. As their condition worsens they will become unstable on their feet, lethargic, wobble, even fall over and lie lifeless. They will die quickly if you don’t act fast.

Note:
• Heavy or Meat Birds such as Orphingtons are the first to show signs of heat intolerance, watch them closely.

• Chickens will hold their wings out from their body,  pant, and lay in holes on their side  – all normal behavior when they’re hot.

What to Do

Submerge the chicken in a 5 gal. bucket of warm water and place the bird under a shade tree.  Don’t bring the bird indoors to air conditioning, this will only make matters worse when you return the chicken to the outdoors. A fan on low will help cool the bird quickly, they usually recover within 15 minutes.

Ideas for Providing  Shade

Shade Cloth
Mesh Tarps
Lattice
Palm Fronds
Shade Sails

Sun shade & mister on garden hose

amy elizabeth, TBN Ranch

 

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About tbnranch

amy elizabeth, writer, poet, author. Lives in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert on a small hobby farm raising Silkie Bantams and Laying hens.
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9 Responses to Chicken Keeping in Triple Digits

  1. Pingback: 115+ Degrees and Chickens | TBN Ranch

  2. pixilated2 says:

    We don’t hit triple digits often in the deep south, but when it gets in the high nineties, with humidity, then if feels just the same! I never considered putting a fan in the chicken yard. The girls do get awfully hot out there, so I will try your suggestion this summer. I’m thinking that in our region the mister might make it worse. True or false?
    Thanks for your article, Amy! ~ Lynda

  3. There will be no fried chicken at your house! :-)

  4. Hope you all survive the summer heat!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love my birds! Just trying to save the backyard chicken world!

  6. Jo Bryant says:

    You are such a good chicken Mum !!!

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