I’ve had a couple members suggest that I post about a good hot weather coop, and tips on coping with hot climates.
I am in Central Florida. Except for in the dead of winter, our temperatures are typically in the 90’s. In the dead of winter, we don’t get many days that drop down to freezing, but we do get a few. Cold is not really a problem here, but heat is.
When I began researching what I needed from a coop, I discovered that here in Florida, open air coops are best. We don’t need enclosed coops down here. An open air coop, with a good sized roof works best. A good sized roof will shade your flock, and protect them from the rain.
Never use chicken wire for a coop. It’s fine for keeping chickens out of a garden, but it is not strong enough to hold up to most predators. While many people prefer wire mesh, I chose 2 x 4 welded wire to start with. It’s stronger, offering more protection. Yes, there are predators that can get through wire mesh.
When using welded wire, more consideration has to be given to placement of the roosts. They must be placed far enough away from the outer walls, so nothing can reach in, and grab your chickens during the night. I also have a pen skirt of welded wire, that extends 3 feet from the bottom of the coop, buried at least a foot under the ground.
There are 2 things we have here that can get through the welded wire, but it’s not too big of a deal. One of them is snakes. I buy a box of mothballs every so often, and put some around the outside of the coop, and run, far enough away that the chickens can’t get to them. The other thing we get occasionally is mice/rats. I use a one-bite product for rats, in bait stations, placed outside the coop, on those occasions. The product I use will not kill another animal that might feed on a poisoned mouse/rat.
A dirt floor is fine for an open air coop. The area where I put my coop was a bit low, so we put in a thin layer of sand, for drainage, then elevated it with fill dirt on top of the sand. While it’s costly for dirt to elevate a large area, only a portion of the coop need be elevated at first, to give them a bit of a dry area. They will do fine if the rest of the coop/run is muddy. Turn the dirt often, especially the first year, even if it’s muddy. That will get the dirt working, and keep the coop fresh.
It tends to rain here quite a bit during the summer, and with the heat, it brings on coop odors, and flies. Fresh, or dried basil works amazingly for this. I get large, inexpensive containers of dried basil, and sprinkle it inside the coop, and runs. The chickens can eat it, and it’s good for them. The flies hate it, so it quickly brings them under control. It smells good, and helps with odor problems.
In hot climates, at least 1 fan is a must-have. While it won’t cool a lot, it will cool some, but more importantly, it will keep the air circulating. Circulating air helps your flock stay cooler, deters flies, and mosquitoes, helps with evaporation, and helps with odor control.
I take empty water bottles, or gator ade bottles, partially fill them with water, then freeze them. On really hot days, I float them in the water buckets. When it’s hot, and the ground is dry, I take the hose, and make a wet spot in the dirt for the chickens. I freeze water in gallon jugs, and punch holes in one side, and lay it on the ground in the wet spot. As the ice melts, it keeps the wet spot cold for a long time, and the chickens love to stand in the cold wet spot.
A bit of chilled fruits, or vegetables are a good treat for them on really hot days too. I’ve been known to adjust the hose sprayer, and lightly mist them. Just make sure to run the hose long enough that the water coming out is cool.
Along with being a hot weather coop, I wanted my coop set up so it was easy for me to take care of my flock. I’m not as young as I used to be, and the easier it is for me to work in my coop, the better off my flock will be.
Here are some pictures of my current set up.
My coop, and run areas are connected by doors.
Fans are a must.
To make things easier, I've got spigots for each of the coops, and since this picture, have gotten new hoses for each of the coops too. Notice the power outlets to each coop, for the fans.