Chicken Coop Chatter©
Even if your chickens are free-range, you must provide areas of shade for them. Below you will find a few ideas to help.
Running sprinklers near the coops is one way to keep chickens cool as the breeze will carry the cool air to the coops and the chicken runs, without soaking those areas. Hosing down the roofs of coops can keep the coops cool as evening approaches so the coops are not hot when it's time to roost.
A light spray from the hose into the chicken runs to cool the environment can help, just do not soak the run. Flat soaker/sprinkler hoses that provide a light mist, can be laid at the outer edge of the runs, providing a cooling mist. Misters, attached to the posts or wires of the chicken runs will give the chickens some cooling down without soaking the ground around them. The Sprayer/sprinkler hoses and misters are available through our link below.
Providing plenty of shade is important, if you do not have trees in the vicinity of your coops and chicken runs. You can purchase shade cloth to drape over the chicken runs. This product is available through plant nursery supply places and possibly farm stores. Propping plywood or pallets or even metal roofing against the house or coops provides a shady area the chickens can access. Planting shrubbery, or even garden vining plants (ie: Beans, squash, Pumpkin) around the chicken runs will help keep the direct sun from penetrating those chicken runs. Planting Sunflowers around the chicken runs provides shade and a source of treats for the chickens. Planting fast growing shrubs to the chicken runs is very helpful. Some that are chicken safe; Butterfly Bush, willow varieties, Camelia, Hydrangea, or fast growing trees such as poplar, birch and willow will be helpful and though not large enough this season, they will provide some shade for next summer season.
Adding a bamboo shade attached with zip ties to the side of the fence has been very helpful in our case, where the late afternoon sun entered some end runs, that were not shaded.
If your chickens are confined to a barn or coops, fans will help keep the area ventilated and air moving. This is especially important if you have outdoor chick brooders. Keep them ventilated and air moving. Do not place fans directly toward the birds. Chicks and chickens are very prone to respiratory issues and that direct air can cause issues even in the summer time. If the coop or barn are hot, the hens may not lay in them, so be prepared for delayed laying or finding eggs in cooler locations. It is not uncommon for hens to cease laying during very hot temperatures. They may molt to shed the extra feathers.
If you add tarps, bamboo shades or other materials, make sure they are securely fastened down, so winds do not pick them up. And make sure those cannot collapse into the chicken runs which may harm the chickens. Though we provide these things for shade, there are times when there may be rain that will sit in a tarp and drag it down into the chicken environment, so make sure those are very secure and check for any sitting water that may be trapped in them, which will also attract mosquitoes if you do not make sure all stagnant water is removed.
A shallow tub with water in it will encourage the chickens to enter the water to cool off. Make sure this is shallow, so there is no risk of the birds drowning, especially if you have chicks within the same environment as the larger birds.
Make sure your coops are well ventilated, so heat can escape on the warmer nights. Chickens can succumb to the heat in the coops, as much as they will to direct sunlight.
Provide stumps, buckets, old tires or old ladders in the chicken runs to keep the chickens active. Make sure all are in shade.
If you notice any chickens showing signs of distress, immediately remove them and slowly cool them down. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are a reality in chickens and can cause death or neurological problems (brain damage). You can lower them into a pan of cool water (not icy cold), to help them cool down. Dry them thoroughly, and keep them in a cool environment to make sure they have recovered, before releasing them back to the flock. Prepare an electrolyte solution or purchase electrolyte formula in the baby section of your local grocer. We always have electrolyte solution on hand for any and all stresses or injury, including predator threats or attacks, to help balance the system and prevent trauma related to the incident. You can have this on hand as well by making our electrolyte solution with simple pantry products that you likely have on hand at all times. You can freeze the solution and drop a few cubes into the daily ration of water to cool it and provide electrolytes with no fuss or muss. justfowlingaround.weebly.com/chicken-coop-chatter-blog/1
If your chickens free-range, provide shelters by leaning pallets or plywood up against a wall or other objects where they can get out of the sun, if you do not have shrubs and trees for shade. The pallets and plywood will also work inside chicken runs. Just make sure anything you use is secure and cannot topple onto the birds. Draping tarp over a ladder and tying down the ends with stakes to provide a *tent*, will give needed shade.
ALWAYS keep the waterers clean and filled with fresh water during the warm months. Chickens dehydrate easily if they do not have a ready source of fresh water. Refill those waterers at least 2 or 3 times a day during these summer months ahead. Adding ice cubes to the water will help to keep the water cooler, however keeping the waterers in the shade will help keep the water cool. Freezing fruits and vegetables or purchasing frozen packages will be a welcome treat during the hot weather. The small bits can be frozen in ice cube trays with water to help cool the flock.
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