Summer is quickly approaching and if you live in the South it’s already arrived. Some breeds of chickens seem to handle the heat better than others, but beyond 80 degrees Fahrenheit almost all chickens will start suffering. You’ll notice when they’re hot how they will push their wings out from their bodies like they’re carrying in groceries.
Chickens pant when they are hot, like dogs, because they can’t sweat in order to cool off. When you see yours panting, it’s a good sign that the heat is affecting them. Look for pale, wilted combs, closed eyes, and droopy behavior. If you see your chickens doing this or acting lethargic, the heat is becoming dangerously overwhelming.
It’s always important to have shade for them and to leave a lot of water out for them, but there are other tips to keep them cool during a hot summer.
Adding electrolytes to their water will help the body rehydrate by replenishing sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate; things which cells and organs need to function healthily. There are many instances in which one might give chicks or adults electrolytes, but this instance, in particular, is specific to heat stress.
Here’s an easy and healthy electrolyte recipe you can make at home:
To every gallon of regular water or coconut water, add :
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon potassium chloride (optional)
Putting out ice in their water or completely freezing pans of ice will cool them down. One of the best things to do is keep frozen berries or fruit on hand. These little treats will provide cooling relief as the heat index climbs up. Another suggestion is shallow trays of water that they can wade in to cool off their feet, as well as watering the ground. Keep monitoring their water; replace hot water with cool water and make sure they have enough.
On particularly brimstoney days some cross ventilation is essential; keep some box fans or misters handy so you can help provide some cool wind. Make sure that their coop has enough shade as well.
Keep in mind, too, that when your ladies get overheated egg production goes down. It takes a lot of energy keeping cool! Chickens like temperatures between 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit; anything more or less keeps their energy occupied. Imagine how much water an egg contains, that’s water your chickens use to create it! If you notice that your eggs are becoming a little soft-shelled; try putting a little Apple Cider Vinegar in their water for calcium absorption.
Let us know some other cool ways to keep your chickens healthy in the comments.