Question About Summer Heat


Jun 12, 2017
Hey all!

First year chicken-keeper here. I've got four girls living in Southern Illinois with me. Today hit 98 F and they were looking hot! They were "panting" pretty hard and sticking to the shade at all costs.

We let our chickens free-range in our backyard all day where there's various shade under bushes and trees. They aren't taking to pools of water or frozen water bottles at all. We keep their water cool as much as possible and they do love frozen strawberries.

Was wondering if it would be better to keep them in their shaded small run where we can provide a fan and mister, or continue to let them find shady spots around the yard, even though they're ignoring our attempts to help cool them?

At what point should I become seriously concerned that they're too hot?

Does anyone have any other ideas to try?

Thanks in advance!
I try to let mine find the cool spots.

Mine cannot free range all day due to hawks. When stuck in the run mine have shade, cool water and the house if they choose. As soon as I get home I set the garden hose to trickle into their wallowed out spot. So long as it is running slowly mine will take turns standing in it.
Misters only really help if the relative humidity is low. If it is already humid mine have avoided any misting.

I give mine cantaloupe or watermelon on super hot days. It helps keep the blood sugars balanced as well as moisture in the system. I do make sure I don't give scratch on days they get the melons.

Other then that just watching for signs of heat stroke.
Thanks for the input!

We're going to try and get some watermelon to freeze and put out a few more dishes of water, too.

Other than "panting" and wings spread out, what other signs of heat stroke are there?
Other than "panting" and wings spread out, what other signs of heat stroke are there?

Wings spread out and panting does not indicate a heat stroke---they are cooling--hot yes. A heat stroke can be like laying and not moving, coordination off, etc. You can but I personally do not do frozen food because when I eat frozen things I get a brain freeze---they might?? I just make sure they got shade and cool water--not hot from the sun.
I love the idea of electrolyte restoration! I'll definitely be doing that.
I'm glad to hear panting and wings out is normal chicken cooling behavior and not a sign of heat stroke. That's what got me worried to start with. I'd hate it if something happened to my girls!
Thanks for the input, guys!

I found this helpful. Numbers 5 through 10 are the clearest to see when they show up.

Giving electrolyte water during extreme heat seems like a good idea.
Good article, thanks. Tho I found this a bit extreme:
"...and at 30ºC (86ºF) the bird will not be able to lose heat fast enough and is likely to suffer a stroke brought on by the heat."

My birds are confined with no great deep shade for last half of the day so I have to be vigilant during heat waves like the one we are having now. I do have shade cloths up on run, which helps, but still not deep shade.

I go by activity level, if panting and wing holding seems extreme, I throw out a few treats to see how everyone is moving.

I put out large shallow pans of ice cubes late afternoon, they walk in and sit on them and sip the water as it slowly melts...used to add water but they would gorge on too much too fast. I also have a box fan in the east window of coop, where it's shady most the day, and turn it on late afternoon to help cool the coop down.

Had hen suffer heat exhaustion/stroke last summer, she was standing stock still and let me walk right up to her(not at all normal for this bird). I determined she could not see out of one eye at all and the other was dicey. I started hydrating her with Qtip soaked in Sav-a-Chik solution held against the side of her beak, had to rub under her beak and the front of her neck to get her to swallow at first. Did this until she got too stressed, about 10 minutes, put her in a cage with a fan nearby to rest. Repeated this about every hour for half the day until she would drink out of a cup held in front of her. She recovered and I also gave the rest of the flock a dose of Sav-a-Chik solution in an open waterer(I use horizontal nipples on waterers), it really seemed to reduce the heat stress so now do that regularly when the heat waves are extreme and days long. Just a half gallons worth every couple days.

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