Helping Chickens Keep Their Cool

Discussion in 'Sponsored Content, Contests, and Giveaways' started by Monica S, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. Monica S

    Monica S BYC Content and Advertising Specialist

    Nov 30, 2012
    by Tiffany Towne, Nutrena® Poultry Expert

    Some people love a summer heat wave, or for that matter, sweating it out in a sauna. Not chickens. For our feathered friends, steamy summer days – which are increasing, due to global warming – can mean trouble. But the right care can help your girls keep their cool and stay productive throughout the season.


    Why the Fuss?
    Chickens cannot sweat, making them much more susceptible to overheating. Chickens normally lose heat as warm blood flows through the comb, wattles and limbs, cools, and is returned to the body’s interior. Problems occur in extreme heat, when the chicken’s temperature (on average 102 – 103 degrees F) cannot be reduced by this method. Without relief, heat stroke, low egg productivity, or death can happen

    Heat Stroke Symptoms
    Just like humans, chickens can tell us a lot through body language. Some symptoms of an uncomfortable or overheated chicken include:

    Wings spread to its sides to release extra heat
    Loss of appetite
    • Lethargic/less active
    Diarrhea from increased water intake

    The biggest concern about eating less feed is ingesting fewer nutrients than are required for healthy, productive birds. At a minimum, this causes weight loss, a drop in egg production, or eggs with poor shell quality. Worst case, it leads to an unhealthy bird that’s more susceptible to disease.

    Hot Weather Care Tips
    There are ample ways to protect your birds and keep your flock happy. Here are some basic tips:

    A hydrated bird is able to regulate its temperature more efficiently – and keep its egg production up. An egg is almost 75 percent water – so keeping this nutrient available is essential for egg production. A fresh supply of cool, clean water is a necessity year-round, but especially in the heat of summer. Have more than one source of water, so chickens don’t have to move far or fight to get it.

    Coops and runs should be partially shaded if possible, even if it’s just a simple tarp or piece of cardboard. But keep it big enough so that birds aren’t huddling in a small space. Chickens without shade tend to stay inside, away from cooling breezes. If you have darker birds, they’ll need more shade to stay cool and reduce fading, since they don’t reflect sunlight like light birds. Conversely, white birds may take on a “brassy” appearance from having their feathers exposed to too much sun. Also, keep in mind that in hot, dry climates, strong sun, combined with high heat and low humidity dries out feathers. They become brittle and susceptible to breakage.

    Proper ventilation is a must. It provides comfort by removing moisture, ammonia and other gases, and provides an exchange of air. Mesh-covered windows let air in and keep predators out. A wire mesh screen doors helps keep the coop cooler at night. Increase circulation with a fan. Also, installing a reliable thermometer to monitor heat conditions is a great idea.

    Coop Design
    Who doesn’t like a breeze on a hot day? If possible, the windows on your coop should be south facing. This will help with warmth in the winter and dryness (and less rot) during the rest of the year. Also, paint your coop a lighter color, so it reflects, rather than retains, heat.

    Dust Baths
    Chickens love taking dust baths and working the cool dirt particles into their feathers. Most chickens will simply roll around in a dusty spot in a garden bed or raw dirt patch. Soil, mulch and sand will also work. If your chickens are confined, you can make a great dust bath for them by filling a shallow container (like a kitty litter box) with your chosen material. Your chickens will be happier and cleaner if you provide a good dust bathing area for them.

    Provide chilled or frozen summer treats. Create your own giant popsicle by floating fruit in a bowl of water and freezing. Chickens also love fresh fruits and veggies from the garden (who doesn’t?). As with all treats, don’t overdo it. Feed no more than 10 percent of the total diet in treats, and make sure a complete commercial ration is the main source of food. This way, your birds will still get the much needed vitamins, minerals, energy and protein that the layer ration provides, but with the added bonus of a cool summertime treat! Avoid high starch grains, such as corn, which heat up a chicken’s body temperature during digestion.

    Low Stress
    Keep stress levels down and avoid getting your birds all worked up. Give them plenty of room to stay calm, cool and quiet. No one wants to “play chase” or be held on a scorching day.

    With the right cool-down care, your flock – and you – can have an enjoyable summer. Have fun!


    Helpful resources: Find a Nutrena dealer near you at, subscribe to the Nutrena® poultry blog at, and sign up for Flock Minder at to receive timely tips delivered directly to your inbox.
    2 people like this.

  2. crealbilly

    crealbilly Songster

    Apr 1, 2015
    Southern Illinois, USA
    I would have read the article but the second sentence turned me completely off...

    "For our feathered friends, steamy summer days – which are increasing, due to global warming – can mean trouble."
    3 people like this.
  3. X2
    1 person likes this.
  4. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Crowing

    Apr 25, 2015
    North Dakota
    1 person likes this.

  5. harmesonfarm

    harmesonfarm Songster

    Oct 7, 2015
    Nanaimo, BC
    great post! thanks for the tips [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
  6. kgb6days

    kgb6days Songster

    Mar 6, 2016
    I don't buy the whole global warming thing either, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Take what you need and leave the rest
  7. Abbey Normal

    Abbey Normal In the Brooder

    Jun 11, 2016

    NASA has reported no significant change in the global average temperatures since 1998. The earth is just not cooperating with the global warming "scientists". It is very hard to justify that the "science is settled" when the earth Just isn't warming.

  8. SilkiesnFrizzle

    SilkiesnFrizzle Songster Premium Member

    Sep 23, 2012
    Lakeland, Florida
  9. Coop de Grass

    Coop de Grass Songster

    Great article! I would add...

    IMHO, misting helps greatly as does a cheap kiddie pooll.
    The pool is cut down to a 5" depth, and has bricks in it. I clean it out every day, and they love it.

    The mister is Mistymate keepincool 6 that I got on Amazon for about $19. I left it running for my recent 2 week vacation while friends were chicken sitting. The flock came through in great, if muddy, condition!

    Next time, I'll use a timer to limit the misting to daytime.
    1 person likes this.

  10. thetmoo

    thetmoo In the Brooder

    Apr 5, 2016
    X5. Climate change is more political tool than science. I read about chicken topics when I want to avoid politics.

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