Extream heat and cooler was not running. Lost 5 out of 10 hens.


8 Years
Aug 27, 2011
I have only been raising laying hens since January of 2011. We bought 6 ready laying hens and 4, 3 week old chicks in January. The chicks were Buff Orfingtons. They grew very nicely and to our surprise starting laying very nice eggs about a month ago. We were getting anywhere from 6 to 9 eggs a day total. We live in a valley in southern AZ and it gets really hot here. I built a very nice coop with plenty of both outdoor and indoor room. It is fully enclosed, predator proof, and has shade for the outside. I have plenty of automatic watering that I check on from time to time to make sure all is well. I feed them home grown veggies with the protein mash. I installed a evaporative cooler that was on a timer. It would come on at 10 am and go off at 6 pm. 2 days ago we had a massive monsoon storm with lots of lightning. We had a strike not too far from us during this storm. Yesterday I go out to feed them in the morning, all is well, the ladies were doing their usually morning greeting. By the afternoon it hit 115. I had to make a run to the land fill, came home and rested a while from the heat. About 6:30 PM I went out to collect eggs. I noticed that there were only 5 hens outside so I whistled for them and nothing. I knew right away something was wrong. I opened the door to the coop and to my horror I see 3 of my buff orfingtons laying dead on the floor. One of the barred next to them and the 4th buff orfington in the nest dead. I could not believe what I was seeing. My Little chicks I raised were dead. I looked to check the water, it was fine. I went to look at the timer for the cooler and it was all zeros, no time on it. The lightning strike must have done that, it has a battery backup built in, but it must have fried it. So the cooler never came on. Last night, and mostly today I am just riddled with guilt. These little orfingtons were the ones who would come up to me and loved being picked up. I will realty miss them. I have learned a lesson. I am going to install some sort of audio temperature alarm for the coop. I feel like I really messed up. I guess this sort of thing happens and it is impossible to plan for everything. I am posting this so that maybe someone else who raises chickens in the hot desert can learn from my mistake. My mistake was trusting an electronic timer for a life or death scenario.
I'm so sorry. Guess, you learned a lesson the hard way. I'm not familiar with your set up. I also live where its very hot its been triple digit heat forever. I'm changing water constantly & adding ice . I have a minimum of two waterers & some coops have three. Its getting to be a hassle changing the water & adding ice but after reading about you & others loosing birds to different watering techniques I think I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. I know its gotta hurt.
That's so sad.
They suffer badly from heat - even hot weather breeds.

This is a teachable moment for those who worry about their birds being too cold in winter. I'm sure it happens but I've never known birds to die from the cold but they quickly die from the heat.
I'm so sorry for your loss

This is our first year keeping chickens and it has not been easy. I'm trying to take the advice of others to just stick with it and it will all be worth it in the end, I hope you can do the same.

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