Overheating Question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RedDrgn, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    May 11, 2011
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    Our chickens were hatched last July and were brooded indoors until mid-August, so they've never been through a summer with their adult feathers.

    Yesterday, we had them all out free ranging from around 11:30AM to 6:00PM and it got up to 80 degrees (F) by mid-afternoon. Now, they never missed a beat or took a break and our yard and their run have plenty of shade, but by evening, everyone but our roo were holding their wings away from their body and panting. Surprisingly, it was our EE (the least fluffy of the bunch) that started acting this way and it was within the first hour of being out in the yard.

    They have free access to plenty of water and despite obviously being warm, no one was lethargic or acting distressed in any way. My question is, how hot is too hot? When do you know they're actually in distress? I'm guessing they won't stay out in the sun and continue to forage (like they did yesterday) if they're actually that uncomfortable, but I don't really know.
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    It doesn't necessarily mean they're distressed, that's they're way of cooling off. We sweat and fan ourselves to cool off, dogs pant, and chickens hold their wings out to release heat (plus you'll see they "pant" a bit too when really overheated). Combs release heat too, so large combed birds seem to deal with heat better than small combed birds, which may be why your EE was affected more noticeably than the others??? I've only ever lost two birds, one to internal laying, and a pretty little EE hen that I think passed due to heat related factors, and it wasn't horribly hot that day. I notice the EEs I have now do as you're describing, and like you said, it's not been really hot yet. In our area (which is similar to yours weather-wise), the humidity plays a big role too, because they can't shed the heat as well as when it's dry.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  3. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

    1,314
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    May 11, 2011
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    I understand that they weren't in distress yesterday, or at least never seemed to be since they kept at what they were doing and didn't even seek shade or take a break...I'm just wondering what to look for if they do go beyond the "warm and just cooling off" phase. It was only 80 then, supposed to be 85 today, but we've had streaks in the upper 90s and low 100s during the summer in the past and just want to know what to watch out for.

    Good point about the combs/wattles; I forgot that helped with temperature regulation and our EE is definitely lacking surface area on those. I had just been so worried about getting them through their first winter that I never really thought about summer becoming an issue. [​IMG]
     
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Yeah, I'd say in most of the US, heat actually affects chickens a lot more than cold, like I said, especially in areas that get hot, humid summers. Like you, I built my coop with winters in mind moreso than summers, and regretted not having more windows come my first summer w/birds.
    I'd say wings spread, beak open/panting, and very little movement are what to look for when watching your birds for signs of heat distress. Thankfully my flock isn't huge, because I actually did bring my birds into my kitchen for a few hours 2x last summer, when we were at a heat index of 115+. Mine are pets, so I didn't want to risk losing (another) one...
     
  5. bj taylor

    bj taylor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 28, 2011
    North Central Texas
    i live in Texas & heat is our thing. this will be my first summer w/chickens. i plan on getting a little kiddie pool. filling it w/play sand & then filling that w/water & keep it in the shade hoping it will be a source of relief for them. we've had temps up to mid-80s & they're not showing signs of heat yet.
     
  6. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    Texas heat is very hard on birds.Last summer was triple digits for three months in a row & the worse drought I've ever seen. I was constantly refilling their waterers with ice & water. My coops are under big trees for shade. I also face my coops to the prevailing winds which is southeast here. I grow three gardens so I would freeze some melons, tomato's, & cucumbers to help cool them down. You can spray the ground with water as well. One other thing I did was provide them a fan in the coop during the day the fan faced their nest boxes at night the fan faced their roost.
     

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