How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat

by Caitlyn Andrews June 10, 2016

How To Keep Chickens Cool in the Heat of Summer

Alright, it's technically spring. But... the hot summer weather is just around the corner! Do you have a plan for helping your backyard chickens survive the heat? We'll give you some tips to beat the heat, but first, what are the dangers of overheating for your flock?

The Dangers of Hot Weather for Chickens

If it's too hot outside your chickens could be in danger of heat stroke or heat stress. Too much heat can even be lethal for your birds. You can tell your birds are hot by how they're acting. Chickens coping with heat will pant, hold out their wings, and even decrease egg production. If your birds are listless and refusing to eat or drink then they could be in immediate danger. While you can't control the weather, you can help your birds get through the heat! Here are some tips and ideas to help get your flock through the summer.

Start with Your Chicken Coop

Let's start with your coop. If you haven't already done so, there are some adjustments you can make to bring the temperature down in your flock's coop.

Ventilation: A well-ventilated coop will help keep your hens from overheating. Try installing a fan in the coop to run during the day so the coop isn't so hot when chickens go to roost in the evening. You can also keep a window opened slightly during the night. Use a screen or steel window guard to protect against predators.

Litter: The concept here is that a thickly bedded coop will act like a compost pile and generate heat. Try using less litter in your coop during the hot summer months than you usually would to help keep the temperature down.

New Coops: If you haven't already built your coop, here are a few things to keep in mind when determining a location:

  1. Shade: If it's possible to build your coop in an area that gets shade this will greatly help your efforts in the summer to keep your coop cool.
  2. Ventilation: This is mentioned above, but we can't stress the importance of good ventilation enough! Not only will it keep your girls cool in the summer, but it also comes in handy in the winter. Coops that aren't well ventilated can trap excess moisture. This could lead to mold and respiratory issues. If possible, pick an area for your coop that catches a nice breeze. You can also use fans to circulate air within the coop.
  3. Room: If your coop is too crowded then it can be hard for your chickens to stay cool. Chickens put off body heat and moisture that can quickly heat up a crowded coop. Here's an article by BackyardChickens to help you determine how much space your flock needs:
Flock of Backyard Chickens in the Shade
Make sure your flock has plenty of shade and room to keep them cool during the hot summer months.

Outside of the Chicken Coop

Now let's take a look at some things you can do to keep your birds cool outside of their coop.

Shade: If you don't have trees or buildings that provide natural shade for your hens then it's time to make your own shade! Get creative here and use what you have. For example, you can try throwing a tarp on the top of their run to provide shelter from the sun.

Misters: You can use a misting system or misting hose where you hens spend their days to help them keep cool.

Feeding and Watering: Feed your birds during the cooler parts of the day. Digestion generates heat. Your birds will need constant access to cool water. Try adding ice to their water source.

Dust Baths: It's likely that your birds have already made their own dust baths in their area. If they haven't, make sure there is a place with loose, dry dirt that they can use for a dust bath. Ideally, a good spot for a dust bath would be in the shade.

Wading Pool: Your birds might enjoy a wading pool! Not every chicken likes this, but if they do then it can be a great way to help them stay cool. Only fill the wading pool about an inch or two. You can add ice throughout the day.

Other Tips and Tricks

Frozen treats are a good way to help your flock keep cool. Try freezing different treats for your birds like strawberries, mint, peas, watermelon, grapes, or chopped greens. You can freeze whole fruits, like watermelon, to let them pick at it throughout the day, or try freezing smaller pieces in ice cube trays or larger containers.

Frozen Berry Treat for Chickens in the Summer

Frozen berries make a great treat for chickens in the summer to help them cool off. Try adding them to their water dishes so they can bob for their frozen treat!

Consider Chicken Breeds Suited for the Climate

If you live an area that has particularly hot weather, consider getting a breed of chicken that does well in the heat. Some breeds are able to withstand hot climates better than others.

Here are a few breeds that do well in hot weather:

  • Leghorn
  • Rhode Island Red
  • New Hampshire
  • Fayoumi
  • Minorca
  • Brahma

    On the other side of the spectrum, these breeds are known to be cold hardy:

    • Ameraucana
    • Australorp
    • Brahma (Yes, they tend to do well with heat or cold!)
    • Cochin
    • Jersey Giant
    • Wyandotte

      Check out this comparison chart of different chicken breeds on their hardiness/behavior/egg type and more!



      Caitlyn Andrews
      Caitlyn Andrews

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