Keeping Chickens Cool in Hot Weather

One of our hens – a little too hot and cooling off under a plum tree one previous year…

Over the last few days here, our chickens have been hiding out in deeper shade as much as possible. We are fortunate here that we do not have extreme heat in summer. Though it has been warm for our hens, (mid 20 degrees C.) the heat does not reach dangerous levels. Of course, we’ve been making sure they have access to shade, and plenty of fresh, cool water.

If however, you are keeping hens in a warmer summer climate, it is important to be aware that chickens are not very good at coping with the heat. Temperatures over around c. 32 degrees C. (90 degrees F.) can pose a serious threat.

I know that many places have been experiencing unusually high temperatures this summer. If you are in one of these areas, you may be worried about heat-stress in your flock for the first time.

Make sure that you:

  • Provide a well-ventilated and insulated coop.
  • Make sure chickens have access to plenty of shady spots.
  • Ensure a consistent supply of fresh, cool water (and consider adding some ice to their water).
  • Feed frozen treats (like frozen fruits).
  • Freeze their normal feed. (frozen food will remain in their crops and help keep them cool, just as warm food will work like a hot water bottle in winter).
  • Consider setting up a shallow pool of water or muddy water hole so chickens can cool their feet in extremely hot weather.
  • Spray a hose around occasionally in a run area (unless there is a drought) to increase humidity and reduce air temperatures.
  • Make sure your chickens have a dust bath in the shade.
  • If your chickens are showing signs of heat stress, consider gently submerging their bodies in tepid water to cool their core temperature.

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