Keep chickens cool with these tips. Depending on where you live and your climate, it can be difficult to raise chickens in the summer. Imagine living in the dry southwest or the humid southeast. Can you still safely raise chickens in the heat? Yes!
Remember the importance of shade. It is usually simple to install a shade sail or other form. You can also remove it when the weather turns colder.
A few hot days in certain climates shouldn’t be a concern if the chickens have access to fresh, clean water and shade. However, in areas with relentless heat (think of areas like Phoenix and hot southern Arizona summers when it hasn’t rained), it can be 110 degrees for days and weeks on end. Such extreme conditions can be hard on chickens.
How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer
Here are the top tips for keeping chickens in the blazing summer heat. Keep in mind the UV rays, especially at higher elevations. The thermometer is not always an accurate measure of the heat index, especially with the direct sun.
Here are the best ideas for keeping chickens cool and safe.
Choose the right breed
First off, if you live in a hot climate, it’s important to know which breeds are better suited for warmer climates. These are cold heat resistant or heat tolerant breeds.
Some chickens that do better in hot or humid areas include Rhode Island Red, the Easter Egger chicken, Welsummer, Orpingtons, Barred Plymouth Rock, Naked Neck chickens, and White Leghorn chickens. The Sapphire Gem chicken also does well.
Many chicken breeds are cold hardy but not tolerant of very hot conditions. One example is the Wyandotte chicken. It is better suited for colder climates.
If given the option, choose a less feathered chicken breed which will be better suited to hot climates. Choosing chicken breeds that are more heat tolerant will right away be easier to keep them comfortable and safer from extreme temperature.
Water your chickens
Plenty of clean, cool water is essential. Even if you have a water pump system, put out extra water for them in several easy-to-access shallow bowls and shorter buckets. Put in several ice cubes as well. Keep the water bowls in the shade.
Learn about finding the best chicken waterer. With a good waterer that’s easy to refill and clean, chickens will always have access to fresh water. Be sure to have several waterers to prevent competition and “a favorite.”
Be sure to put them in a location that is convenient for you to refill.
Chickens love frozen fruit
You can also freeze fruit in an ice block and give it to them.
Save your kids’ watermelon rinds. Chill the rinds in the refrigerator, and then give them to your chickens for a cool treat. Your chickens will love it. This is a great way to use the entire watermelon.
Chicken’s shelter and environment – Chickens need shade
They will need shade, even something temporary, as their best chicken coops alone will not be sufficient. This is especially important if they are facing the west side where there may be hot afternoon sun in the summertime.
Supply them with shade in a well-ventilated area, even if it’s makeshift.
You can purchase a shade tent, a shade sail, or rig something with tarps or sheets. Consider using whatever you have. Hang golf umbrellas, old bedsheets, old tablecloths… anything to keep the direct sun off your chickens. Remember, 100 degrees in the direct afternoon sun is hotter than 100 degrees in the shade.
Ventilate the coop
To keep the airflow moving, ventilation is a must. Consider a window that’s safe from predators and a fan.
Depending on long the hot season is, it may be worth it to consider installing a misting system, even for a small area. If you want something less expensive and less permanent, buy a misting attachment for your hose and prop it up for cool relief.
DIY misting systems are easy to set up and make sense especially if you have a rainwater cistern. Your flock will enjoy the cool mist during the hot spring and summer temperatures. If you have a large flock, set up more than one mister. The chickens will seek it out.
Kiddie pool to keep your chickens cool
Keep a small pool in the shade. Fill it up with just an inch or two of water so the chickens stay safe. Add ice cubes or ice blocks throughout the day. The chickens will enjoy being able to come and go as they please. Chickens can drown so it is important to keep the water shallow.
Do not put chicks in the pool. Learn can chickens swim to find out more safety tips.
Small trays filled with water and ice
When it’s really hot, an easy thing to do is to set out trays with water and ice. The chickens can step in to cool off. Keep your old shallow pans and pots. You can fill open plastic containers (leftover from sour cream, large containers of yogurt, etc.) with water and freeze them to make ice blocks.
Open air system
From the start, work to house your chickens in an open air system with an attached run. It will be worth it. You can provide ventilation and ongoing shade which in very hot areas are more important than an enclosure which provides warmth.
Safety Tips to Help Your Flock in the Heat
Clean the chicken coop
Bacteria multiples faster in the heat. Keep your chickens clean, cool, and comfortable by cleaning the coop regularly.
Check on the chickens at least twice a day during extreme temperatures. Be sure to watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stress in chickens.
How to Keep Chickens Cool with Hot Summers FAQs
Do chickens need a fan in hot weather?
Chickens don’t need a fan in hot weather but it helps. A fan will help circulate air, which is necessary when it’s hot. Also be sure to raise chickens in a well-ventilated area. Free ranging or in a chicken run is a great start. The coop must be ventilated as well, and a fan can help.
What helps chickens stay cool?
Some things that help chickens stay cool is to provide shade for them. This is very important in hot climates in the afternoon sun. Providing plenty of water (set in the shade) is essential. A mister and kiddie pool (fill to a shallow depth with water and some ice) can also be helpful.
Tips for raising chickens for beginners
It is easy to raise chickens when you set things up correctly and properly from the start. Here’s what to know about raising chickens.
House chickens as far away on your lot as you can as to avoid the noise and the smell.
Be mindful of your neighbors. They probably don’t want to see, hear or smell them either.
Decide how many eggs you want per day. That will determine how many hens to buy.
How much space do you have? You need to plan for one chicken per three square feet at a minimum.
Find out what predators live in your area, especially if you have a fenced in area for the chickens (Fence Installation Hacks for Putting Up Fencing).
Consider getting a livestock guardian animal.
Install a long PVC pipe and connect it inside the coop to their trough so you can fill their feed from the outside. Cap it so you don’t attract critters.
Install a water pump system so you won’t have to always refill their water. The chickens peck it to turn it access water.
Fencing is key. Use a wire tighter than chicken wire such as hardware cloth. Depending on your predators, make sure the wire is at least 10″ underground as well.
Raccoons are a huge threat to chickens and can reach in with their paws to kill chickens through chicken wire. Raccoons and other animals can dig down deep so be sure to put the fencing deep enough. Consider a treadle feeder in order to keep rodents and wild birds from feeding on the chicken feed.
Will the chickens be free range
If they won’t be free range, the general rule of thumb is 3 – 4 square feet of coop space per hen and 10 feet of run space per hen.
Having enough space will help prevent the chickens from fighting.
Before you get chickens, it is a great idea to take care of someone else’s chickens for a few weeks. They are easy but do take time and attention.
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I’ve never known anyone to own chickens. But after moving to the Las Vegas area, it seemed commonplace.
These tips have kept our chickens safe and comfortable.