It’s much easier to keep baby chicks warm then trying to keep them cool… which is impossible.
Most parts of the country raise chicks in Springtime when the weather is mild. This gives the birds plenty of time to mature through the summer months and be fully feathered by Fall. Not the case here in Phoenix because extreme temperatures of 100+ can start as early as May and by June, reach 110+.
These conditions are not suitable for baby chicks, being this hot in a confined brooder is not only stressful, but can be life threatening. Chicks need to have a heat source, yes, this is true, but also need to be able to get away from it to stay comfortable.
Improper brooder temperatures also increase the onset of pasty butt (fecal impaction.) For these reasons, in Phoenix, it’s best to start chicks in November, and by April they are mature enough to slowly acclimate to our rising temperatures. Remember, It’s much easier to keep baby chicks warm then trying to keep them cool… which is impossible.
Chicks are Best Kept Outdoors
Raising chicks outdoors in a shed, barn, or garage is the best place to keep your baby chicks in November. They will most likely only need a radiant heat source. If the weather turns colder at night, a low wattage heat lamp may assist in keeping the brooder temperature steady. You can buy low wattage heat bulbs in the reptile section at your local pet or feed store. I usually use a red 75 watt bulb if the brooder temperature drops below 60 degrees. More on using radiant heat & heat lamps.
Where Do I Buy My Chicks?
If I want a particular breed and can’t find it locally, my #1 source is Ideal Hatchery or My Pet Chicken. I’ve never had a shipping problem, and they both usually have those special hard to find breeds I’m looking for.
In most parts of the country keeping chickens in the summer heat is merely keeping them comfortable. But not here, in Phoenix, Arizona it’s a matter of keeping them alive in temperatures that can easily exceed 115 degrees… for months. Keeping chickens in extreme heat is serious business and I’ve got all the information you need HERE to keep your flock healthy during this difficult time.
Do I know what I’m talking about? You bet, my flock has experienced temperatures in the 120’s. Any fatalities? Zero in the last eight years. In my novice years as a chicken keeper I lost birds when the temps were only in the 90’s… now I share what I’ve learned to help others avoid this tragedy.
We’re living in an oven. Today 114, tomorrow through Wednesday we are flirting with a chance of temperatures reaching 120 degrees. Keeping chickens is a challenge to say the least, but it can be done with the right survival tools.
Chicken keepers have extra duties during this time, every flock is at serious risk of heat stroke /exhaustion. Making sure they have shade is #1 priority, also try and provide a mister and fan. If you don’t have either, don’t keep them confined. Allow them to dig a hole in the dirt under a tree or bush, preferably with a hose nearby on a slow stream or drip. More Information…
Important: Don’t bring your chickens inside the house, it will be difficult for them to acclimate to the heat when returned outdoors.
Here in urban Phoenix there are two major enemies occupying the top spots on the list of chicken predators. The Coyote and two hawks in specific.
Coyotes aren’t usually seen during the day, sundown seems to be when they’re most active. They’re rather greedy too, seldom stopping at one bird. It’s not uncommon for them to wipe out half the backyard flock. Not only should the chicken yard be secured with a fence buried at least a foot in the ground. Concrete around the bottom as well would be ideal. Don’t assume that a six or seven foot block wall perimeter fence will keep out a coyote, it won’t.
If at all possible, having a raised chicken coop that can be completely closed up at night is the best way to protect your birds. The top of your chicken yard or run needs to be enclosed with aviary netting, because in-flight predators are next on the list of chicken enemies.
The Red Tail Hawk is not fussy about what time of day they snatch a chicken from the flock. These birds are very intelligent, so you’ll need to be creative if you’re going to outsmart them. They are indeed capable of carrying off an average size chicken.
Red Tailed Hawk
Below is our resident Harris Hawk, smaller, and not capable to carrying off an average sized chicken. However, be aware that these birds work as a team. Where there is one, there is usually two more. They are patient and relentless towards their goal, give them the slightest invitation and they will take it. Once they find a flock, they will circle over head, then sit on a nearby roof, or fence. This could go on for days while they intelligently calculate their plan of attack.
Harris Hawk in Phoenix, AZ
Don’t Forget this Guy…
There is at least one Bull snake slithering around our ranch. These predators are more of a problem with chicks or very young birds. Keep in mind when reaching to collect eggs that they have the same agenda! Look before you reach! They are harmless to humans, but they can be quite startling just for their size alone!
Remember, respect predators for their place in society, your job is not to prove where your place is on the food chain – it’s merely to prove you are smarter.