Caring for Chickens when Temperatures Rise | TBN Ranch

All you Need to Know is in this Article

Keeping chickens cool 2

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.

 

 

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Hello Summer

We’ve had a pleasant spring, but it looks like our normal May temperatures have arrived. By Sunday it’s expected to reach 107, and then the real heat comes by the middle of June!

My ladies are ready, there’s plenty of shade in their new housing, and they’ll have the option to free run all day. I’ve let a creosote bush grow big and bushy all year just so they’ll have shade.  A hose on a slow drip beneath it will also give them a place to cool off… and a place to keep them busy looking for worms.

These girls have there own covered play area to hang out in, but of course they insist on being in my space. This is the feed room, and where I raise young pullets. It’s supposed to be the clean area… oh well, guess not anymore.

Silkies 5-29-15

Keeping Chickens Happy in Hot Weather

Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat with this Handy Checklist

Summer is coming, is your chicken yard and coop suitable to sustain the well being of your flock? It’s important to prepare for extreme heat or your birds may suffer from heat exhaustion. Sun is the #1 enemy to chickens that are confined, especially in small quarters. Here in Phoenix, extreme temperatures will reach 115+ degrees, and we must take special precautions to help our chickens fair well.

Remember, happy chickens fill the egg basket, agitated chickens acquire behavioral issues, are low producers, or may stop laying altogether. Here’s what you can do to keep your chickens happy and healthy this summer…

√  Suitable Housing / Play Area

It’s not that hard to accommodate the basic needs of chickens in hot weather, with a little effort on your part they will fair well. First of all, cramped housing, even in partial sun can be a death sentence. If your coop is too small, the easiest way to give them more room is to build a large enclosure around the coop.
I can’t’ stress enough, the more space the better.

√  Coop Location / Shade / Natural Behavior

Your chickens need a shady place, watch the sun, make sure their coop and play area has morning AND afternoon shade. Keep water out of direct sunlight and refill drinkers with cold water in the afternoon. You can also freeze a chunk of ice and put it in a shallow water container on those really hot days.

Get acquainted with artificial shade products such as shade cloth, shade sails, and my favorite, grommet shade tarps. Never use waterproof  tarps, they inhibit airflow, which is crucial to your birds survival.

Chickens stay cool by digging holes in the dirt. It’s imperative they have a natural earth area to do so. Chickens may or may not appreciate a nearby mist system. If you choose to experiment, place it where it won’t interferer with their drinker or food source.

A wet area under a shade tree or low bush provides an ideal oasis for chickens. Dig a shallow hole large enough for your flock to enjoy the benefits of a hose on a slow drip. On really hot days, you can offer your birds relief by flooding that area about an inch deep. They will stay quite busy looking for worms and insects while they cool down.

Warning Signs of Physical Heat Distress

A common sign is a change in behavior, such as bullying, pecking each other, or pacing. When uncomfortable from the heat your chickens will hold their wings out from their body, pant, or both. Extremely dangerous signs of heat exhaustion is when your chickens become lethargic, pale, disoriented, or are stumbling.

This is when you must act quick. At this point, it is best submerge the bird in a large bucket or tub with WARM water. Place the bird in a shady, preferably grassy spot SEPARATE from the other chickens. If at all possible a fan is very helpful. I do NOT  suggest bringing the bird into the house where it is cooler.

√  Quick Fix Fluids

An excellent source of fluids on a hot summer day is watermelon! If you have a large flock, simply cut a watermelon in half, set it on the ground and let them feast. They will pick it clean and love every minute of it!

Another option is adding electrolytes to your chickens water sources, you’ll find this product at your local feed store.

√  Feed / Diet

Scratch Feed

Scratch feeds should be avoided altogether in the summer. Corn is a hot feed, and that’s the last thing chickens need during the summer months. Instead, a bit of crimped oats will be accepted by your birds as a suitable treat. Feed in general produces heat, so on days that reach 115-120 degrees, I ration all feed, offering small portions a few times a day.

√  Bedding

Hay and straw hold heat, a better choice in summer is shavings or sand. Keep the coop and nest boxes clean, chicken droppings also produce unwanted heat.

If you have broodies, make sure there is a convenient water source nearby her nest and plenty of ventilation.

A fan to help move the air around your birds is extremely beneficial.

A Few Tips on Chicken Keeping in VERY Hot Weather

Phoenix, Arizona

Are you prepared for a summer day that might threaten your flock? Don’t wait until it’s too late, here’s a few tips to help you prepare.

The coming week looks like it will keep me busy trying to keep my hens comfortable alive.

Am I worried? Nope… we are prepared and ready to beat the heat.

Partly CloudyTues 111 High 87 Low

Partly CloudyWed 116 High 91 Low

Tools of Preparation:

√ Fan
√ Mist System on low
√Watermelon
√ Ice Cubes to keep their water cold
√ Shallow pan with 1 inch of water for them to stand in
√ Shade Cloth, lots!

Remember, confined birds are more at risk than free roaming.  Keep a close eye on your flock, watch for panting, holding their wings out from their body, lethargic behavior, or acting as though they are disoriented.  Flood an area for them, let them scratch around in mud, playing in water is a life saver!

rooster_pecking

Keeping Chickens in Excessive Heat

The Recipe for Survival, Explained in Detail

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.

Air Flow

chickens aug 2011 011

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. See pics below.

Electrolites

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 and the size of your flock.

tbn chicks apr 2011 010

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 …

Gavin Flock, Summer 2011

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.

Providing Shade

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