Hot Weather Blues


In the Brooder
8 Years
Nov 19, 2011
East Tennessee
We're entering our first heat wave in Tennessee, and I'm worried about my flock. We have our chicken tractor in an area where there is absolutely no shade whatsoever. We have covered the tractor with a tarp to create shade for them, but I don't know if this helps or hurts because I worry about the air getting stagnant and stuffy in there. We try to make sure their waterer is full of cool water, and I add poultry electrolytes to it. I am also planning on freezing some water bottles for them to lean on and perhaps putting a little chicken swimming pool in their coop. Is this enough?
I just worry because the summers here get so hot. Last year, I don't think the daily highs dropped below 90 degrees from July through August, and I'm concerned about my ladies. Thank you!
Without shade they will overheat. Mine overheated last year with shade. 1/2 my flock was laying on the floor of the coop panting. This was with a fan and a pool of water. I only had a shade tarp, which I switched to a solid tarp and it still was too hot. I had the sprinkler on too, but my coop is on the west side of my house which is the hottest. They were about to die of heat stroke. We re-modified our run putting a steel roof and side panel. What a huge difference! It's darker in there, but it keeps the sun off them. We planted 4 fast growing trees so far and plan to plant many more for shading. Last year we planted full sized trees and they died. Here's our before and after run shots. Our coop is inside our garage.


We are also free ranging this year, so our hens will take refuge in the cool swampy woods. We are also adding hardware cloth next weekend under the welded wire, so they can sleep outside in the run. It will be double wired.

Last year I brought the flock inside the house and set up a temporary home for the triple digit weather. I only had 8 and they were loving the air conditioning. They took over our entire basement at times and it was a lot of work cleaning up after them and disinfecting the floor every time they pooped(I let them stretch their legs on the cement) Here are 3 I brought

Bringing them inside is not an option this year unless it's one or two in an emergency. Their bodies are already heated with their feathers. Good luck!

Mine learned to love the sprinkler. I gave them a lot of watermelon and applesauce to keep their electrolytes up. I was also watering down their run to keep them cool every hour.
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I really wish bringing them indoors was an option, but unfortunately it's not. We could put steel roofing on their tractor, though, and I can see letting them free range during the day. They would all come back to the coop at night, right?
Yes they will. Free ranging is also risky of predators. I have stray dogs mostly to worry about. We have hawks, but we have awesome cover in our woods under the thorn trees/bushes. The hawks can not get in there and my flock watches the sky.

The hens travel everywhere, so if you have a neighbor that doesn't like chickens, it's best to keep them off their land. I currently supervise all the free ranging. Next spring we are fencing in our entire 4 acres of land. This will prevent the girls from stepping on the neighbors lawn and it will keep the stray dogs out. We are doing this 1/2 fencing next spring and the rest the following year due to the cost. We will put chicken wire across the unfinished fence to keep our hens and dogs in during the day.

Mine go back in the coop to lay and go to bed. They also come back midday to rest. They pretty much have a path that they stick to. I can easily get them into the coop if I see a dog. I use a stick as a long arm to guide them. I'm very much looking forward to the fence. In the woods, we already fenced off an area, so they can not pass onto the neighbors property, it's about 30ft from the property line. We will move that chicken wire fence off and use chain link at the property line next year after we get a survey done. My neighbors do not like chickens at all and the fence will solve this issue.
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We have pretty bad predator problems, too. I had a flock of guineas get eaten by a pair of bobcats and a hawk, but this happened at night or at the break of dawn, not during the day. Our property is fenced--not chicken tight, but it is fenced--and there is plenty of thick cover for them if they ran into the woods. I may try this and see how it goes.
I just had my hens out and I spotted 6 massive red tail hawks in the air. I swear they are as big as eagles. Back into the run mine went. At least it's laying time for them. I'll let them back out later. The hens saw the hawks too, they were watching closely at the sky. I think they are 3 pairs.

Ugh, the hawks are soooooo abundant. I have a red shoulder hawk in my backyard too, I can hear it, but have not seen it. There are coopers hawks and a very dark brown species that I have no idea what kind. Only once have they swooped at my girls and that was 3-4 weeks ago.

Good luck with the heat. We only deal with the hot temps for 3 months-4 months tops. Otherwise is subzero up to -20F. We heat the coop and cover the run in plastic.
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