Jessica is an experienced pet mom with dogs, cats, rats, fish, axolotls, a gecko, chickens, and ducks.
Chickens are generally hardy animals, but they can have trouble regulating their temperature in the summer. Chickens are unable to sweat, so sometimes they can use a little extra help keeping cool. Here are six ways to help your chickens stay cool during the summer.
1. Make Sure They Have Plenty of Shade
Chickens love to hang out in the sun, but when it gets hot, it's important to make sure that they are able to have a shady place as well. For chickens in a run, a tarp covering part of their yard works great. I like to make sure that they have a sunny area to dust-bathe, and a shady area for when they are trying to beat the heat.
2. Cold Water Is Important
I know this one seems like it could go without saying, but make sure that your chickens have plenty of cool, fresh water. It is easy to underestimate how much water your birds will drink in the 90 or 100-degree weather, or how hot their water will get when it is sitting out in the sun.
If at all possible, change your chicken's water at the hottest point of the day, and continue checking on it during the afternoon. A great way to keep their water cold is to put ice cubes in it in the morning and throughout the day if you can.
3. Give Them Some Cold Treats
I love to make my chickens some frozen treats when I know it's going to be hot outside. An easy way to make a treat for them is to take a can of corn, juice and all, and dump it into an ice cube tray or muffin tins. The next day, the chickens will have a blast trying to peck the cold kernels out of the ice.
Another super easy cold treat is to freeze a bag of mixed veggies. These always seem to cool the chickens down very quickly. If you are like me and can never finish a watermelon, the chickens will love your leftovers. They will be in heaven pecking at the cold fruit, and it will be great for them because it is so hydrating.
4. Give Them a Kiddie Pool
I bought my pool for my ducks, but on hot days, I catch my hens playing in the water, too. This gives your chickens an option to get in if they get too hot. This is also a great thing to have just in case there is a spill/some other accident with their main water source. As long as you keep the pool clean, fresh, and cold, the chickens will have no problem drinking from it.
5. In Case of Emergency, Use a Sprinkler
During my first summer keeping chickens, there were several days where the temperature was over 100 degrees. I had given them frozen treats and shade, but they still seemed hot. I knew my chickens were getting uncomfortable, so I quickly decided that I would set up a sprinkler so it was just barely hitting their yard. This way, the chickens could decide whether or not they wanted to be in the water, but the sprinkler still cooled them off.
6. Keep the Coop Well-Ventilated
Make sure that your chicken coop has windows so it is not too stuffy. If your coop is big enough, you may be able to put a fan in there for them, which would help tremendously. If you use the deep litter method to keep your coop warm during the winter, it is a good idea to go ahead and give your chicken coop a deep clean.
What to Do If Your Chicken Is Overheating
If your chicken is walking around with her beak open, spreading her wings for an extended period of time, or acting lethargic, she is probably overheating. If this is the case, it is too late to use some of the tricks I listed above. Here are some things you can do to cool her down and potentially save her life:
- Fill a bucket with cool tap water. A large Tupperware container or anything large enough to submerge a chicken would work too. Then grab your chicken and submerge them up to their neck in the water. Do not put their heads underwater!
- Get them out of the sun! If at all possible, take them into the house. Putting them in a cool area with an air conditioner or fan should cool them off quickly. Make sure they have plenty of water available during this time.
- Give them something cool to sit by. A frozen gallon jug of water would be great for a hot chicken to sit by. If you don't have a frozen gallon of water on hand, be creative! Even a frozen bag of veggies would be great for an overheated chicken to lay next to.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.