Hot Hens? How much heat can they handle?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 5eggladies, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. 5eggladies

    5eggladies New Egg

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    Aug 17, 2013
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    We have new backyard layers as of this past spring. They have just started to lay - yay! They seem fine and happy, but we live in Kansas and we can have some pretty hot and steamy weather during the summer. Our coop and run are directly in the sun. We don't have a great option for shade, so we positioned it so there is always a shady spot either under the coop or in the run. They free-range for the last few hours before bed each evening. On super-hot days, though, I feel so bad for them, I let them out for most of the day, where they hang out in the shade. However, the longer they are out of the coop, the more mischief they get into (digging in the mulch, etc). Do they need more than a bit of shade and access to water when it's 90's-100's and humid?
     
  2. kbh82310

    kbh82310 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed my chickens and ducks frozen veggies and make a mini mud pit to help them cool off. Also a frozen gallon jug of water helps, they will lay next to it.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    They are most likely digging into the mulch to try to get to cooler dirt under the surface soil. It does indeed sound like they are heat stressed. they absolutely need shade, breeze and plenty of cool water in the heat of summer. I have read that anything above 100 degrees can be lethal to them. If they are panting with their mouth open, and holding their wings a little away from their body, they are too hot.

    I have a large, very airish coop and run a box fan in it all summer. It is cool enough in there that at midday heat they will go in there for the shade and breeze, rather than stay under a bush in their yard. On bad summer days I hose down the coop and the bare dirt just in front of it. In a pinch, I have dunked a bird in a bucket of water, swished her around a bit, and let her air dry. People do things like fill soda bottles with water, freeze them, and leave them lying around where the chickens can cuddle up to them. they also use misters and wading pools for them to be able to stand in water, though mine never would, even though the pool was inside the coop, so well shaded and with a breee to keep the water temp down. I don't actually see how a mister can do much more than cool the soil, since the water runs off them, but some people seem to have good luck with them.

    It sounds like you need to figure out a way to set up a fan and create more shade. If your coop is like most built for Midwest winters, it is probably too hot in there for them in the summer day, maybe also at night. I would not force them inside, myself. It's a shame you set your coop up where it is not shaded. Just about anywhere in the US gets hot enough in the summer that they need their coop to be in the shade.
     
  4. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You need to find a way to cool your coop and the nesting boxes, they will continue to lay on them and they might have a heat stroke. This summer I made what I call "summer doors" for my coop, they have openings covered with hardware cloth and I placed 2 small fans blowing directly into the coop's windows.I got the fans for 20.00 each at walmart. My coop has the type of nesting boxes with a lid on top so I open the lid a bit for more ventilation and still have some privacy for the layers. Once they finish laying I open the lids completely until roosting time, then I close them for the night. When cold temps start, I will change to the "winter doors" to keep them warm but still with some ventilation.
    If your coop is not set up for these kind of arrangements, some people put some nesting boxes outside the coop where they can have lots of shade and ventilation.
     
  5. Twinklin

    Twinklin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in Scottsdale AZ. My girls are 4 months old, not laying but have been outside all summer. We reach temperatures over 115 here and have about 3-4 months where is rarely gets below 100 during the day. I have a tarp over part of the run for shade. When they were confined to the run all day I had a mister in the run that I turned on any day where there temperature was close to 100. After about a month of them being in the run I started letting them free range during the day. They now hang out in the bushes when it's sunny and I set the mister up near them on days over 100 and they'll come out and forage in the mist. I haven't had any problems. We have very little humidity here when the temps are that high. Right now it's monsoon so it's humid but cooler. I am home all day and was prepared to treat them for over heating if necessary but none of them showed symptoms. They had access to water which I put frozen water filled milk jugs in and that was pretty much it. They did fine. We're still close to 100 on days it's not raining but we shouldn't get back over 100 the rest of the year.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013

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