Desert dwellers...how bout them chickens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by arayok, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. arayok

    arayok New Egg

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    So I live in Tucson and I know that there are a lot of people that live in the city to raise chickens, but my biggest concern is the fact that the summers here are pretty harsh (for humans).

    I'm wondering what I'm going to be facing when my chicks grow up. I already have their run and coop snug on the north end of the house to keep them cool and get the morning sun, but I'm wondering if anyone out in the desert does anything specific to keep their birds happy and laying.

    Adam
     
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    I'm not from the desert, but I do have a word of advice: Get birds that are appropriate for your climate (heat hardy). That makes all the difference in the world.

    Good luck. And enjoy!
     
  3. ontimeborzoi

    ontimeborzoi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    2x!! I would think you would want to be looking at the Mediterranean breeds. Breeds with big combs and tight feathers. No big fluffy chickens, no matter how cute you think they are. : /
    You might think you can run fans ( and have heard of folks using a/c in the chicken houses ) but one day the power WILL go out. Then you can lose them all, instead of just the one or two who might have had trouble adjusting to your climate without your intervention.
    I'm dealing with this same issue now, myself. I have some nice new Cochins. Large fowl. I guess *I* thought when 'they' said the breed doesn't do well in heat and humidity, they meant... oh... Georgia. Texas. Florida for sure! Well, maybe before we began experiencing one record breaking hot summer after another, each warmer than the last, maybe *then* that might have been the case. But now it means coastal Virginia too and I'm looking at my very large fluffy chickens and imagining another triple digit summer....
     
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

  5. PtldChick

    PtldChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x2 to all above. Try to provide as much shade as possible, especially when it gets 90s and above. A couple of canopies coudl help, especially if yo have ont he can act as a porch to shade the hottest side of the coop.

    Lots of water for them to drink and step in, get one of those kiddie pools and fill it a few inches - it will provide extra drinking water as well as cooling. Try to keep it in the shade, also.

    Ifyou don'thave the right kind of birds fo rheat, switch over to appropriate ones as you change out hens - lighter colored feathers are better for heat, just like clothes. The last chicken you want in the hot sun is a black cochin or dark brahma! I hope you aren't partial to those.
     
  6. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Shade trees and arbors. If they are fruit trees, then you also have free food. A living shade is cooler then just a sunshade.
     
  7. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey Adam! Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Please come join us in the BYC Arizona thread! https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/31227/arizona-chickens/23660#post_8329922 Several peeps are from Tucson and can give you good local advice.

    My free range birds have done very well in the high desert with lots of shade, cool water, and dirt for dust baths. In my opinion, fans are great to help ventilation but, as chickens don't sweat, fans don't help as much with cooling.

    What breed(s) of chicken did you get?

    See you around, and again welcome!

    Bryan
     
  8. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    My Coop
    It can get pretty warm here in New Mexico also. Last summer I found that if I hosed down their shade in the run, early in the morning, the evaporation of the water thru out the day caused a cooling effect and their shade was 15 degrees cooler all day than in the same type of shade somewhere else! Also, you can take a shallow pan and fill it with tiny stones or gravel. Fill this pan with just enough water up to the level of the stones. Place this pan in their shade. This also evaporates cool air around. (Sorry folks, this stuff won't work with high humidity, only in arid climates).

    If the chickens get really hot, you can take soda pop bottles filled with water and freeze them. Place those around the run and some of the hens will snuggle up to them for their cooling effect. Good luck with the summer heat!
     
  9. arayok

    arayok New Egg

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    Thanks everyone for the advice. For those that are wondering I have an Easter egger and two Dominiques. They're doing okay for now. I provided them a large roof and threw in an additional water dispenser. I'm also attempting to grow grass in some parts of their run, so I'm wetting the soil in the morning. It also helps with keeping down the dust.

    One more question: do they really use a kiddy pool to cool down? I wouldn't mind making something but obviously I'd want them to use it.

    Once again, thanks everyone!
     

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