The Recipe for Survival
Once again it’s that time of year when soaring temperatures raise concern to chicken keepers. For those who can free roam their flock there is less worry. But if you have backyard chickens that are confined to a coop, your worries are quite valid. Here’s what you can do to make your flock more comfortable.
There are steps to take that will help your chickens beat the heat, but it will take a little effort on your part.
If your coop is over crowded it’s time to expand, too many birds in small quarters is just asking for trouble.
Air flow is vital. Chicken droppings generate heat, so be sure to clean the coop and lay down fresh bedding. If at all possible provide a fan for ventilation, if it isn’t… find a way. A fan could be the difference between life and death.
Keeping the Flock Hydrated
There is a pecking order among chickens, so provide extra water sources for those lower ranking birds who might not be allowed to use the drinker.
Chickens will drink more if the water is cool, provide cool water at the hottest time of the day. If you have broody hens, make it easy for them to access water, don’t assume they are leaving the nest… some don’t.
Tip: Full buckets of water will stay cold longer, put out a few.
Shallow ground drinkers work nicely for bantams.
It’s always a good idea to have electrolytes on hand for those really hot days. Simply add it to your flock’s water source. Electrolytes for poultry can be found at your local feed store. It comes in many forms, choose one best suited for your needs & the size of your flock.
Chickens may or may not like a mist system, my birds hate them, however, I have heard positive feedback from other chicken keepers. So it may be something to consider useful in dry climates.
A more positive approach is to provide your birds with a small flooded area for them to play in. Even if it’s just a a hose allowed to drip, they are magically lured to this life saving man made oasis.
Triple Digit Temperatures …
Here in Phoenix our temperatures can reach 115+ degrees, this is when it’s time to bring out watermelon, cantaloupe, lettuce, or anything that will help hydrate the flock. These foods will be better for them than layer pellets, which contain corn… which produces even more unwanted heat.
During these heat spells, I ration layer pellets, offering it morning and night only, for about an hour or so.
Shade is essential to the survival of chickens in extreme temperatures, especially if they’re cooped. Your coop is best placed under a shade tree, but remember the sun moves and may leave your birds exposed to direct sun during the course of a day.
Never use tarps. Shade cloth, mesh tarps, and shade sails are excellent for keeping the sun out, yet they don’t restrict air flow. Shade cloth is cheaper than mesh tarps and available in most garden centers. Mesh tarps might be pricey, but they’re a lot easier to hang. Both, are durable and offer long lasting wear.
Recipe for Successful Chicken Keeping in Excessive Heat
- Offer 1/2 a watermelon or cantaloupe and place it in a shady area.
- Find a way to hang a fan a foot or so feet from the ground.
- Provide an area where a hose is on a slow stream or drip.
- Keep drinkers filled with cool water. Tip: Buckets kept full will stay cool longer!
- Use shade cloth, mesh tarps, and shade sails.
- Electrolytes for Poultry
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