I think we can all agree that summer is here, temperatures are hotting up! My dogs can escape the summer heat – they really like air conditioning! But what to do about keeping the chickens cool during the summer?
I found this list on the web – pretty common sense tips, most of which we do to keep our girls happy and cool!
Essentials for Cool Chickens
It goes without saying that a constant supply of fresh water is absolutely essential for the girls during the summer. When it starts getting towards triple digit temperatures I check their water daily, sometimes twice a day. Some people like to add electrolytes to their chicken water – not something I’ve done, but when it’s really hot, it certainly wouldn’t harm & might help.
We use a 5 gallon tank feeding into a row of chicken nipples -found that this is the easiest way to supply clean water to the girls. During the summer we freeze BIG ice cubes to keep the water cooler. Cutting down a gallon milk jug is the easiest way to do this if you don’t have a big plastic tub/mold.
When it’s really, really hot I’ll put out big bowls of water too – heavy duty rubber bowls that you can get at any feed store. These will get soiled with chicken poop so have to be cleaned daily. But I feel that it’s extra water available for the girls if needed.
Good shade for their run is also essential. If you’d be uncomfortable sitting in the middle of an unshaded field, you can bet that your girls wouldn’t like it either. Our run has good shade from a couple of Live Oaks – think the girls appreciate it! We also put wood strips on part of the roof of the run to give extra dappled shade. A little extra work but well worthwhile.
I have plenty of trees and shrubs to provide shade when I let the girls out of their run. They also seem to like squeezing themselves under the deck where I’m sure it’s really quite cool.
Cool Treats for Cool Chickens
WATERMELONS are probably the favorite summer treat my girls get. If they’re out & free ranging when I bring one home from the grocery store, they mob me to get it! What I usually do is cut out a bit from the middle of the melon for us and give the rest to the girls. As you can see from the photos, they eat it down to the thinnest rind. Watermelons are full of vitamins and minerals – great for humans and chickens! They are also more than 90% water so it’s a good way to help keep them hydrated.
LEAFY GREENS are another treat I give to the girls on a regular basis. They get any overgrown or excess spinach, lettuce etc from my vegetable garden – no wasted product. Whenever I don’t have spare greens from the garden I get big bunches of kale from the grocery store. Less than $1 for a big bunch – again the girls really love it. Disappears in no time!
FROZEN PEAS aren’t something that I give to them very often, but it’s a nice cold treat on a hot summer day. And they seem to have fun running around after the peas. You could also freeze fruit or veg in blocks of ice and let the girls play with it as it thaws.
Summer is generally when we eat more salads and fruits and less carbs. So it’s good for chickens to be given more veggies and fruits & less corn/scratch. A lot of what you do to make summer living more comfortable for you applies equally to chickens. Just give it a little thought…
Keep the Coop Cool
I’ve discussed ventilation in the coop before. Chickens are very good at producing ammonia, heat and moisture – all things you need to get rid of with good ventilation to keep everyone healthy. Good ventilation goes a long way to keeping the coop cool in the summer, especially if the coop isn’t shaded.
I personally prefer natural shade from trees – for people too! One of the biggest benefits of shade trees is the fact that they can drop the temperature under the canopy by as much as 10ºF. That makes a big difference to the local environment and everyone’s comfort levels.
If you go to https://www.backyardchickens.com you can find different ways that other folks use to keep their coops cooler. I haven’t used any of these methods, but have seen others use radiant barriers & fans in their coops. I’ve even seen roofs that can be raised up to vent excess heat. There is no end to peoples’ creativity. Every coop is different – find a solution that works for you!
Hope you all have a great summer. Keep your girls cool & check on them often. Give them some frozen treats and they’ll be happy. Me, I’m going to sit under a big tree and drink nice cold margaritas!