Ways to Keep your Chickens Water from Freezing this Winter

Chickens need access to water year round, but keeping it from freezing can be a challenge in the winter. Read my best tips!

One of the most-often asked questions we get from readers is how to keep their chickens’ water from freezing in the winter. Chickens need access to unfrozen water every day in order to stay healthy, laying well and alive, so it’s very important to keep their water from freezing… Read Article

 

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Desert Temps Reach 116, Chicken Survival Tips

Battling the Heat, the Tools for Survival

Oh my! 116 today and keeping chickens in this ridiculous heat adds to my chore list when it’s  just so hard to be outdoors. But for the love of chickens, I pour on the sun screen, hide from the sun under a giant umbrella, and head out to the barn.  By 8AM it’s already in the 90’s and too hot for the flock to be confined. It’s most certainly better to allow chickens to dig holes, seek out shade, and  follow their own instincts on ways to best battle the heat. Of course, as a desert dweller, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help them find relief.

A Few Tips, Create a Cooling Station!

Here’s what I do. There’s a portable mist system in the shade and a low sided shallow pool with a few bricks inside for them to sit on. The bricks stay cool, some use it, some don’t. None of the birds seem to fancy the mist system, nevertheless, it does cool the immediate air by about 20 degrees, so I entice them to the area with fresh greens or fruit.

Coop Oasis 6616

Layer pellets are available, but kept in their coop where the temperature is undesirable. Considering there is corn in feed, it should be kept at a minimum because corn produces heat. Some chicken keepers will pull feed completely during the day when it’s this hot. But I find this unnecessary, since chickens limit their food intake by choice… at least mine do.

Chicken Coop 6616

Predators are a worry when the chickens are allowed to free roam, but let’s face it, confined chickens in 116+ temperatures is a death sentence in these parts. I take my chances, keep an eye on them, and hope during the day predators won’t be actively looking for food until sundown.

Chickens like to dig holes, don’t discourage this. It’s their instinct to find cooler ground. They will look for anywhere water has been and choose that spot as the ideal place to settle into. Help them out, dump their drinkers in the same place every day, or leave a hose in the shade on a tiny drip.

Keep the drinkers clean and offer COLD water during the day. Chickens aren’t fond of hot drinking water. Large drinkers will stay colder longer, but I also use shallow buckets or bowls so I can add a chunk of ice during the day. The worst choice for a water source (where it’s super hot) are nipple drinkers, here’s why…

Avoid Nipple Drinkers

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Nipple drinkers are neat gadgets, but if you live in an oven, forget using them, especially the type with those tiny drinker cups.  The water in the small cups get way too hot and chickens avoid using them. Using nipples are just as useless in my opinion. The water in the container itself may be cool, but the water sitting in the lines heats up fast, and your birds wont drink enough to stay hydrated.

Remember, the sun moves, either you have to move your drinker to keep it in the shade, or provide water in various locations to assure there is cool water throughout the day. Nipple drinkers are not usually movable, they’re meant to be low maintenance, fill ’em and leave ’em… which is exactly why they’re not used on my farm.

Keeping your birds hydrated with cool water is absolutely vital…  and just to make sure they have enough fluid intake, offer up some watermelon!

More Helpful Information | TBN Ranch

 

 

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!

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