Australian Suburban Chicken Run - Tips needed for Summer

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by NewAussieChook, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. NewAussieChook

    NewAussieChook Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 24, 2014
    Hi everyone!

    I was wondering if the more experienced chicken lovers could lend me a hand with tips/ideas, etc about keeping our Coop/Run cool in summer.

    We have had chickens since Jan. They were 6 - 10 weeks old back then and I kept them inside until the hot spell was over. We live in suburban Adelaide, South Australia. The driest continent in the world. Last Jan in our heat-wave time - we saw temperatures of over 42 degrees Celsius (that's 107.6 Fahrenheit) for 9 days straight - the hottest day was 45.7 (114.26 F) . And it's ramping up to be much the same this coming Jan.

    So in preparation for summer I'm looking for tips on how to keep our 4 beautiful laying hens cool. We have a Coop/Run down the back of our garden - it is fully enclosed due to the amount of cats in our area and our 2 dogs (who would like Chicken for dinner). It's made entirely from recycled/re-purposed materials - we didn't spend any money building it.

    Here -

    [​IMG]


    This shows how it is full enclosed with chicken wire and shade cloth. The shade cloth is 90% sun block-out. The black canvas we have just put back up this week to keep them cooler - it just clips over the chicken wire there. They love to dig and dust bathe down there - very cool soil.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the Coop from the run. We have shade cloth on the front wall to keep the air circulating better. Excuse the dirt-covered GIANT red-headed 'toddler-chicken' (he had a hose-down when we left) ;). And yes, he has jocks on.

    [​IMG]

    And here's the run. It's bigger than it appears - just hard to get a good photo angle with the veggie patch in the way and my GIANT 34 week pregnant belly.

    [​IMG]


    As you can see there is alot of surrounding metal, which isn't ideal. The left-hand side strip is the back fence (so cannot be modified much as we share it with the back neighbours) and the right-hand side is our shed.

    Last Summer we did alot of spraying the run down with the hose (on 'mist'). I could possibly look at wetting old sheets and attaching them somehow? It's much cooler down under the canvas, but really needs the open section of chicken wire for circulation.

    Does anyone have any tips, tricks, ideas, etc for keeping our lovely ladies cool?

    Thanks heaps!
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  2. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hi NewAussieChook and welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    I hail from Queensland where, as you would know, our heat is not as dry as yours but the humidity can be a killer also!

    Well done on the no $$’s coop and run, looks great!

    I have shade cloth over my run also and kind of adjust it depending on the time of day and time of year. My only concern with over-shade clothing would be cutting down of the air circulation but I note you mentioned leaving an open section for just that purpose.

    I am not sure about in Adelaide, but we have to be careful with misting in that damp areas and humid temperatures provide a lovely haven for unwanted organisms and increase the risk of respiratory disease.

    I give my gals water with ice cubes during the hotter days. A fun distraction for them from the heat is to put frozen peas or mixed vegies in some water, not only do they have fun trying to get them, the water is kept cool also. Watermelon is a nice cooling treat as well. I do damp down a part of the run which has good air circulation and dries out quickly and they lay in the cool dirt/shade on the hotter days.

    Have you seen the ‘Australia – Six State .. and that funny little island’ thread? Lots of helpful people on there and some may be from your area and have other tips for keeping your gals cool:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/598568/australia-six-states-and-that-funny-little-island/16130

    Regards
    Teila
     
  3. BrooketheChook

    BrooketheChook Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 14, 2014
    South Australia
    Hi NewAussieChook!

    I'm so glad to find this, I am from Adelaide also and my two 8 week old chooks start panting within 10 minutes of putting them outside ALREADY this 'spring'. I'm so scared because I wont be home all the time to bring them inside when they get too hot and they are at the age where they should be outside ALL the time now (and my housemate is starting to hate them being brought inside; he believes they are diseased and will make him sick, although I keep them in a clean terrarium). They start to give distressed 'cheaps' when it is too hot and I can't run a fan on them outside. As you know, ice melts within half an hour and any 'wading pools' get hot within an hour or two (and again, not home to keep topping up the pool with cold water).

    Have you come up with any other nifty ideas since posting? I'd hate to lose my chooks to our heat...and this Adelaide summer is going to be a stinker.

    :) Brooke.
     
  4. AussieChics

    AussieChics Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 7, 2014
    Adelaide Australia
    Hi from Adelaide also. I have just installed misting sprinklers. Only needs to be on for a minute or two which makes the run cooler. I have their water bottles in The freezer and some left over soup from winter in there as well.

    I find once the dirt is wet they go mad dust bathing in it cos its cooler.

    Other then ice and watermelon not much else can be done unless they are joining you inside with air con on :)
     

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