I think most people don't realize chickens handle the cold much better than they handle the heat. Here in Pennsylvania it gets really humid when it's hot, so my poor girls really pant in the afternoon. Here are a few ideas I have come up with to keep them cool.
- This is the most important, and almost a duh: they must always have access to water. In intense heat, a chicken can go downhill really fast if they don't have access to clean water.
- Secondly, they should have some shade that isn't the chicken coop. I've found that coops get super hot because of a lack of circulation. Even well ventilated coops can get really hot on the hottest days. If your birds aren't situated under trees or some other shade, get them a tarp or a shade umbrella.
- Try freezing a cup of water in a disposable plastic cup. On hot days around noon, I replace their water, and drop this huge chunk of ice in. It only stays cold for about an hour, but they drink up the cold water gratefully.
- Refrigerated watermelon is also a nice afternoon treat. It's cold, and full of water and should help them beat the heat.
- Frozen berries are also a great treat. They take some time for them to get into so it's also a good boredom buster. Cold, sweet yummy treats on a hot day. Yes, please?
During really hot days, chicken stool may be more lose than usual. This is possibly due to all the extra water they are drinking. When chickens are working on staying cool, they will pant, and pull their wings away from their body. This is all healthy behavior, but be on the look out for droopy behavior, or pale comb and wattles. If you see this, give your chicken a dip in a cool bucket of water.
What are your ideas to keep your chickens cool on these hot summer days?