Act Fast, or Else… Here’s How
When it’s 115 in the shade, it means the thermometer in full sun will register 120 or more. It also means that your chickens are in distress and could face death if you don’t have a plan in place.
First of all, if they are caged or in a small coop they will not survive. I know that’s pretty harsh, but it’s true. So if you don’t want fried chicken for dinner tonight I suggest you find a way to free them where there is some shade, dirt, and water. Shade is a no brainer, but that’s not enough when the heat is this brutal. They need soft dirt where they can dig a hole to stay cool. Get a shovel and the hose and start prepping an area for them, their instincts to dig will continue from there.
Leave the hose on a slow drip in the area where the chickens are, and if possible, securely hang a box fan on the fence any way you can. Put full buckets of cold water somewhat near the fan, this will help cool the immediate area.
Make sure you keep their water sources cool, if their water gets too hot they want drink it. They may drink water from the mud holes you are providing them with, that’s ok, assuming you’ve kept up on your housekeeping chores. If not, get busy because there’s no time to waste.
Managing the Feed
If you free feed your backyard flock, don’t. In extreme triple digit temps it’s better to feed early morning by 6AM for about two hours, and again an hour before sundown. Food produces heat causing even more heat stress. It’s also very important to not offer any scratch feeds. However, you can give them beneficial food like lettuce, fruit, and especially watermelon. Cut a watermelon in half and set it in the yard during the hottest part of the day, it’s a great source of fluid and they love it. When is the hottest part of the day? If you’re in the desert southwest, it’s between 3 and 6pm.
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Keeping Chickens Cool