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Managing the heat?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Circe, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. Circe

    Circe In the Brooder

    Jul 2, 2011
    Griffin, GA
    How do I help my girls manage the heat? They have constant access to water, and I've been putting ice in it. I've tried to give them cool treats like chilled grapes and watermelon, but they don't seem to like them. We've only had them since Saturday, and the heat is oppressive this week. Tomorrow, it's supposed to cool off to the low 90s. They are panting and walking around with their wings out. Can I run the sprinkler on them?

  2. mdbokc

    mdbokc Songster

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    With four girls, you can put them in a pool/container of cool water (I use 3" deep). You'll have to hold them there from escaping until they get used to it. They'll stop panting and cool down pretty quick. When you let them go, they might exit right away or hang around and enjoy it for a minute before jumping out. Repetition and they soon realize a cool pool of water = cooling.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  3. BoltonChicken

    BoltonChicken Songster

    Apr 14, 2011
    Bolton, Mississippi
    Chickens are tropical birds that can take a whole bunch of heat PROVIDED you give them the following:

    1. Get them out of the sun and provide lots of shade, preferably under a tree.
    2. Put some dirt under them so that they can scratch, get dirt baths and burrow into the soil which keeps them cool.
    3. Lots of water. You have already done that.
    4. Lots of ventilation. Down south a fan is sometimes used to pull heat away from their bodies.

    Panting and holding out their wings is a way for them to reduce body heat. It is the same as humans sweating, and is NOT a sign of distress. You see all birds doing this in heat.

    The following is NOT effective in cooling off chickens.

    1. Putting ice in their water.
    2. Giving them a swimming pool.
    3. Spraying water on them, or wetting their litter. Chickens do NOT sweat like humans, so wetting their feathers does NOT cause cooling by evaporation as it does not reach their skin.
    4. Misting also only helps only in areas of very low humidity, like in the desert southwest. In areas of high humidity misting does not help at all.

    One effective question to ask yourself about any chicken question is: "Would chickens do this (or have this) if they were in the wild?" If the answer is "no", then you probably do not need to provide it to them.
  4. ronikins

    ronikins Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    SW Missouri (Ozarks)
    Quote:Where's the thank you button??

    Thank you! I have been worried about mine also. But I have quite a few and I just couldn't imagine trying to get them all in a pool or running the sprinkler for them. They are free-range and go where they need to get cool. They love the ice-cold runoff from the ac. I have a fan in the coop for my one broody and any others laying.

    But thank you for all these facts.

    Funny, I kept tryin to keep ice in their water for a bit. My husband insisted that it would cause them to be colic... Never heard that before..... I think he just thought I was being silly.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  5. Buff-Island-Australorp

    Buff-Island-Australorp Songster

    Apr 1, 2011
    Bixby, OK
    I freeze water in milk jugs, 2 liter bottles, and even 16oz gatorade bottles. I lay them in the run and will eventually get most of my birds to either lay beside them, or recently, I've noticed them standing on them.
    I walked out there the other day, and my favorite RIR, "Darla", had just one foot propped up on the bottle. It was quite comical.

    Here in Oklahoma, we have had an extremely weird spring and early summer so far. In the month of June, we had only ONE day below 90°, and so far in July, I believe we've had 8 out of 14 days over 100°, maybe more. It's been miserable, but as long as I can use subtle ways to help cool off my chickens, I think they are more easily able to acclimate themselves to this type of enviroment.

    Frozen water bottles seem to be a cheap way of helping to maintain some of the stress of this awful heat.
  6. Baymule

    Baymule Songster

    Jul 1, 2010
    Northeast Texas
    East Texas checking in here on the heat. Ummm.......I thought chickens ALWAYS had their mouth open and ALWAYS held their wings out... [​IMG]
    Seriously though, I keep them a cool patch of earth by wetting it down each evening and they LOVE frozen watermelon rind.
  7. Circe

    Circe In the Brooder

    Jul 2, 2011
    Griffin, GA
    Thanks for the suggestions! They are in the shade, and they have nice black dirt in their run to dig in. Their coop is ventilated well, so I guess they are ok. The heat has broken for now, and we are only in the 80s today, and 78 is predicted for tomorrow. Nice!

  8. NickyPick

    NickyPick Songster

    Sep 18, 2010
    Cypress, TX
    We've been running close to 100+ the last couple of weeks, and with it being Houston, there's a LOT of humidity. I swear, you start sweating as soon as you open the door, much less step outside! I gave my chickens a floor fan, just outside their run. It blows harder than a box fan and I have it tilted up a bit to catch the chairs. They spend the mornings in the barn near the horse's stall fan, but in the afternoon, all the girls will be perched on the chairs, feathers blowing in the wind. They haven't been panting or holding their wings up much at all since we started this. Here's a pic of my set up:


    And a close up of the girls on the chairs (turned out to be perfect chairs. their poop falls right through so we can sit with them without getting stained and they get air flow)

  9. GeeJay

    GeeJay In the Brooder

    Jun 14, 2011
    Horton, MI
    I like your set up there in Texas!

    Good idea with the fan! I am here in Michigan (not quite as hot today) , so far my meaties are hanging in there in their tractor! And they like the watermelon [​IMG] I am new to all this, but already planning my coop and layers for next spring... gonna take a while to get all the work done-chickens aren't the only thing I do!
  10. renovationmom

    renovationmom Chirping

    Mar 20, 2011
    Texas Hill Country

    I have been using a mister,(2% humidity, over 100 degree days for 3 weeks now) the tube type you put around the patio. It only wets down the very front of the coop, the entire coop is shaded and ventilated. The flock has the option of leaving the area being misted, but so far, they all prefer to be right in front, digging in the dirt and playing. They are in no way in "Show" condition, but they are healthy and happy. Watermelon has been a big hit for my flock too. They were first scared of it, but then the main man got a close look at it, decided it was not going to eat them, and called everyone over.

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