Keeping Flock Cool in Heat: What My Delawares Taught Me

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Barry Natchitoches, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Songster

    Sep 4, 2008
    Here in the Memphis area, we've had a month long heat wave so bad that the deaths of 19 people are directly and officially attributed to the excessive heat, and many others have suffered heat stroke or other heat related problems. They have been advising people stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible, and the local power company actually went around to all those who had their power cut off for non-payment and temporarily reconnected them to get them through this heat crisis.

    Meantime, farmers and chicken hobbyists are having a hard time keeping their livestock cool and safe. A farmer friend of mine lost one of her head of cattle yesterday to the heat. Another chicken owner has told me that she hasn't had an egg in several weeks (out of 14 hens), and she is sure it is because of the excessive heat.

    I have done a number of things to help my chickens bear this heat: multiple fans in their living quarters, a watermelon treat each afternoon, putting extra waterers out for them, and changing their water at least twice during the heat of the afternoon. I even built them a dedicated wind tunnel, using an industrial sized fan that I paid over $100 for at Northern Tools.

    Doing this, I've maintained the health of the birds and even their egg production.

    Yet they are still suffering in this heat, and I really want to do more. Yet I was out of ideas -- until my two little Delaware pullets taught me a thing or two about cooling down.

    You see, I had run out of dedicated poultry waterers, and to provide them with more water outlets, I restorted to filling one gallon bowls with water. I didn't want my birds to be more than 5 feet or so from a fresh water source, it is so hot right now.

    Well, I went outside a few days ago late in the afternoon to find one of the gallon bowls empty. I had just filled it with water a few hours earlier, and it was bone dry. So I filled it again.

    It didn't take long to figure out why it was bone dry.

    One of my seventeen week old Delaware pullets figured out that if she climbed into the bowl, she'd be cooler.

    Since that revelation, Lucy and Ethel (my two Delaware pullets) have been taking advantage of that bowl, and I keep filling it up for them.

    Then, following their lead, I found a clean cat litter box that I hadn't used in a few years, and I put it in their chicken run. I filled it up with cool water (changing it twice a day).

    For those chickens who are suffering the most from the 100+ degree heat, I am now picking the bird up slowly so they do not feel a need to run from me. Then I bring the bird out into the chicken run and gently place the bird in the shallow water. They might fuss a bit while I am carrying them out there, but I have not had a single bird fuss once she was placed into that cool, shallow water. I hold the bird down gently with one hand, and with the other hand, I pour cool water on her back, wings and tail area. But never in her face. I place her so that her face is away from me, and that protects her eyes from splashing water. I spend at least a minute or two with each bird, pouring cool water on her back, wings and tail region. Then I let her go. She will jump out of the water, but she will be noticibly cooler.

    Just another idea for those of you struggling to keep your birds cool and healthy in the excessive hot temperatures of late...
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  2. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I guess that would work if you only had a bird or two.....for those of us who work during the day what I did last year was to fill a shallow pan with some water and put a big block of ice in it. As the ice melted it supplied cool water all day long that they could stand in (or drink....being chickens they don't mind) cooling their legs seems to be a fast way of cooling their whole body down.

    This year I have more birds and less shallow pans around, so I have given them ice in their regular water buckets just for drinking.
    I'm getting PLENTY of eggs (have about 7 doz in the fridge right now!)
  3. Germaine_11.20

    Germaine_11.20 Songster

    Jun 6, 2009
    Yes, it took me a day or two to figure out they were standing in the water to cool off. I also wet down some patches of sand and they seem to like it.

    Ice is a great idea. I wish I had more room in my freezer now to store some.
  4. goatranch

    goatranch Chirping

    Dec 8, 2009
    We are in Nebraska and have also been very hot here. We are lucky to have 2 freezers, so I have been freezing 2 or 3 bowls of water. I also have been collecting over-ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches or anything that somebody is not using. I put them in the freezer whole. No fuss and food not wasted. I give them as treats, and they love their ice tomato treats![​IMG]
  5. HBuehler

    HBuehler Songster

    Jun 30, 2009
    Lebanon TN
    We are also in TN but we have too many for small dishes to cool them so we water the runs a few times a day...we are around 110 heat index and each run has a water trench in it for the rain water to drain so we keep the trench full and they stand in it..if you want to keep them alive during this heat keeping their tootsies cool is the way to go.My free rangers spend the day with my AC unit standing in that ice cold water puddle it makes...never shuts off(donations being accepted for the bill now)
    The ice doesn't work keep it in ice form for more than an hour you would have to have ice blocks the size of the freezer..lots of work for little time.
  6. I freeze 1 liter bottles of water and put several in their kitty litter bucket waterer. The other day when I collected all the bottles to carry them in to refreeze...I found 2 or 3 that still had some ice in them! When I collect the bottles in the evening I empty all the ice bottles in the run and they wade in the puddles and dig 'fox' holes and lay in the cool sand.

    Today we did not reach to 97.9...but tomorrow and into next week we are forecast to be in 100's again.

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