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.
Important: Don’t bring your chickens inside the house, it will be difficult for them to acclimate to the heat when returned outdoors.
Every good chicken keeper knows the importance of protecting their birds from predators. Most of us will, or already have lost birds to a coyote, hawk, fox, bobcat, etc. It’s devastating to see the after mass, I know, it’s happened here, I lost seven birds after a coyote attack in 2016. That changed everything I loved most about keeping chickens. Since the attack, my birds have been completely safe after building them a 10×10 predator-proof enclosure. Unfortunately, that means their happy life of free-roaming our acreage came to a screeching halt. To me, it meant never enjoying my birds out and about, it was now just a chore for their well-being. Chickens live for the opportunity to scratch in the dirt and look for bugs, sunbathe in the morning sun, or find that perfect spot for a dust bath. Since confinement, I’ve noticed the overall health of my flock has not quite been what it was.
The heat plays havoc on confined chickens in the desert southwest, heat stroke is real, and it’s deadly. Free-roam flocks have a much higher rate of survival and are quite resourceful in finding shade and cooler ground to burrow in. So this brings me to a dilemma, coop for safety from a predator, or free roam for quality of life and comfort from the extreme heat?
Quality of Life
Today I opened the gate and allowed my flock to live a happy life. After considering the risk, I decided being cooped up in 110+ would have the same outcome as a predator attack… both could mean a death sentence. I will do my part to protect them in every way I can. They will be confined from dusk to late morning, but during the hottest part of the day, they will be free to find comfort. Here are some of the girls who found a comfy place in the feed room… where there’s a giant oscillating fan and mist system. 🙂
Spring is saying it’s last goodbye here in Phoenix. Temperatures are reaching the 80’s during the day and that means only one thing… the real HEAT coming. I took advantage of the mild weather yesterday and prepared the chicken coop for the dreadful 115 degree days which inevitably are just around the corner.
Mist systems are in place and in working order, even the old fan has been replaced with an industrial grade high powered oscillating model specifically made for barns. Sun screens are all new, and double layered on the east and west side of the coop. I dragged out the big drinkers to help keep the water cool, and replaced the covered nest boxes with the open tops. After a thorough cleaning and fresh shavings, we are ready for summer, bring it on!
It’s definitely a challenge keeping chickens in extreme heat, this article will give you lots of tips on what you can do to keep your flock safe. Cold weather is not a problem, but heat is a whole different story… and it can be a deadly one.