Caring for chickens in hot weather is super important. It can often mean the difference between life and death for your little friends! So if you’re new to chicken keeping or have found yourself in the middle of a heatwave this is a post for you!
Knowing what will help and what will make it worse will help you keep your chickens happy and healthy. Chickens are one of those animals that hide they there’s anything wrong, often until it’s too late. It’s not a great trait for them to have for us, but to them it stops them being singled out by predators.
Here are some of my tips for keeping your chickens happy and healthy in hot weather!
Keeping chickens in hot weather
Move them out of the sun if you can or provide them with enough shade.
My chickens coops only get a few hours of direct sunlight a day, and it’s between 9am and 2pm. To keep them in the shade I’ve pegged up blankets to the side of the runs to stop the sun hitting them directly, and you’d be amazed at how much it helps! I also have thin planks of wood placed across the top of the runs to provide shade from above. It doens’t really matter how you do it, just make sure they have somewhere out of the sun.
Most animals find it hard to regulate their body temperatures in extreme heat. Chickens do run a higher temperature than humans, which means they get hotter quicker in my experience. Create shade for them any way you can.
Fill the water bowls and keep checking them.
My chicken’s smallest water tower holds 3L of water, and you’d be surprised how quickly that goes in this heat. Not only are the birds drinking it, it’s also evaporating. I fill up all the water towers at least three to four times a day and on especially hot days we’ve refilled them up to 7 times! That’s a lot of water, but I don’t know how much the chickens are getting and how much is evaporating. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Your chickens will drink a lot of water even on cold days, so always make sure there is plenty of water for them.
Give them ice.
I’ve put ice cubes in their water towers, and I’ll often fill an empty bottle of water with mixed corn, sweetcorn, or peas, and some water and let it freeze. They find it quite entertaining to peck at it to get the food. Not only does it provide food and cools them down, it can give them a couple of hours of entertainment. Two birds, one stone, as it were.
It’s easy to do, and cheap. It’s a very simple way of looking after your chickens, you should give it a try even if you haven’t got an exceptionally hot summer!
Cool down the floor
Cool down the floor if you have anywhere concreted or that gets hot. Their feet are pretty hardy, but they really don’t need to be burning their feet when we can do something about it! Keep the floor cool by providing shade or watering it down some.
It’s a good time to check what sort of state the floors of their runs are too. Should they be moved, do they need more shade? They like to sunbathe, so is there anywhere they can be in the sun and then come away when they are finished?
Leave them in their coops in the morning or put them to bed too early.
Inside their coops will get very, very hot in the sun. The temperature will rise inside, even if they are in the shade. Don’t leave them in there! They will die. It’s like leaving your dog in a hot car. Don’t do it. If you can, open the coop roof even just a cm to let air out. Remember to close it at night though!
We put a small piece of wood between the roof and the wall top. This lets air out, and really does help keep the coop cool. I have also had to shut their coop doors behind them once they’ve been let out, as some of them aren’t so bright and go into the hot coop and just sit there. I know it’s easy to think they’d move if they didn’t like it, but don’t let them stay in there.
Put food and water in their beds.
I know it’s tempting to give them everything in their beds in this heat, but the water in the coop will make it damp and humid when it gets heated up by the temperature of the coop. That will invite
At this point they should only be in their coops when they sleep, so they won’t be using the water or food towers. It would only encourage them to stay inside.
Don’t do anything you consider “risking it” if you care about your birds. Never put off checking their water. Don’t put off putting something up to provide shade. “Risking it” could mean your birds are left to suffer while you could do something about it. That’s not fair in any sense of the word, and your birds rely on you for help.
If you enjoyed this post why not read this one, where I tell you a few things to think about before getting chickens.