Are your chickens panting, spreading their wings, trying to cool off? This can be nerve wracking, but I have found several things useful to keep chickens cool in extreme heat. I think that you will too.
1. Provide Shade
This may seem obvious, but the simplest way to cool down your chickens in extreme heat is to provide shade for them. Providing shade for your chickens is something that should always be done for your flock, not just on hot days.
If your chickens are not free ranging, then at least part of their coop should contain a shaded area for them to retreat to.
Ideas for providing shade for your chickens:
- Use a bungee cord and tarp to cover part of the coop.
- Lay tree branches (with leaves) over the top of part of your coop.
- Build a roof over one end of it.
- If you have a mobile tractor type of chicken coop, find an area on your property that will provide shade and park it there.
F.Y.I.: Temperature is always measured in the shade. If the outdoor temperature is 90 degrees and your flock doesn’t have shade to retreat to, they are actually being exposed to temperatures much, much higher.
2. Clean Your Chicken Coop
Waste material (chicken poop) and bedding builds up and will begin to decompose, producing heat. During really hot weather, clean the coop out daily. By avoiding the composting process from occurring, you can stop the temperature from rising in the coop.
Don’t let your chicken manure go to waste! Chicken manure contains Potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphorus and can be used in your garden bed as a fertilizer. It also is a good soil amendment. Adding organic matter to your soil will increase its moisture holding capacity.
Tip: Do not put chicken manure directly on your plants. It will kill them! It is important to let it compost or age. If you compost properly, it will kill disease causing pathogens and it will be safe for people, your pets and plants.
For more tips on how to use your chicken manure to make garden soil, read my article How to Make Garden Soil Out of Chicken Manure.
How Chicken Manure Creates Heat
When chicken manure (high in Nitrogen) is mixed with bedding (pine shavings, leaves, straw) and you add moisture, it will heat up. The center of it can actually reach a temperature of over 150 degrees!
In an article, written by Paul Boughten, in Engineer Live he discusses how chicken farm manure is being used to create both HEAT and POWER!
3. Provide Fresh, Cool Water
Provide your chickens fresh, cool water throughout the day when you are experiencing hot weather. Chickens can drink up to 2 times the regular amount during the heat. They do this to cool their bodies down.
RentACoop has A LOT of chicken waterers at great prices on Amazon. If you are needing any watering containers or chicken supplies, check them out for their latest prices.
Ideas for making sure chickens have fresh, cool water.
- Change their water frequently throughout the day.
- Have extra water sources available and put them around their coop.
- Place their water in the shade.
- Add ice cubes to their water.
- If topping their water off with the garden hose, make sure that it is cold water and not the hot water from the hose sitting out in the heat.
For more tips on how to keep your chicken water clean, read my article 7 Best Tips – How to Keep Chicken Water Clean.
4. Feed Your Chickens Cool Treats to Beat the Heat
Feeding your chickens cool treats during the hot weather is a great way to help cool them off! When a chicken eats a frozen or cold treat, it will sit in their crop for a period of time and actually help to lower their body temperature.
Treats for Chickens on Hot Days
- Watermelon, Honeydew Melon or Cantaloupe – you can cube it, slice it or just cut it in half and serve it to them. However you choose to serve it, they are sure to love it!
- Meal worms frozen into little ice cubes.
- Frozen grapes, cubed berries and melons
I always like to feed my chickens some cool, lactose free yogurt on a hot day too. For step by step instructions, read my article How to Make Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt for Chickens.
5. Add Fans to Coop and Chicken Run for Ventilation
Having a fan installed in your chicken coop will help to provide good ventilation for your flock. Without proper ventilation in the coop, your chickens are likely to smell the ammonia fumes from their poop and this can not only make them sick, but decrease their egg production too.
I find it best to install one mini fan that brings air in on one side and another fan on the other side that blows air out. I have two little computer fans installed in my chicken coop. It blows and sucks enough air to keep their coop well ventilated.
During extreme heat you can also take a box fan and install it on one end of your chicken run. I live in California, where the weather usually doesn’t get that hot, but one Summer it did. I put an old fan out to see if this would help my chickens. To my surprise, a few of them stood in front of it to cool off!
6. Provide Misters for Your Chickens to Cool Them Off
Misters will help to lower the air temperature. Usually, chickens do not like to be misted, but I have found that if they are really hot they do not mind it. Misting the air helps to eliminate dust, smog and contaminates in the air.
Misting your chicken run also helps to cool the ground for them. After misting my chicken run down in the summertime, I often find mine taking a dust bath.
7. Provide Enough Space for Your Chickens So They are Not Crowded
Chickens need to be provided enough space to spread their wings and move about freely. If they are so crowded that they have to huddle together they are likely to overheat, especially if the temperature is high enough.
If you do not give them enough space they are more likely to nit pick at each other, turn aggressive, develop bad behavior and to become cannibalistic.
|REQUIRED SPACE / CHICKEN|
|COOP SPACE||2-4 SQUARE FEET (MINIMUM)|
|OUTDOOR SPACE||8 SQUARE FEET (MINIMUM)|
Adult chickens need 2-4 square feet of space, per chicken, inside of their coop and should be provided with at least 8 square feet of space outside of the coop.
Chicks and young chickens require a different amount of space. Read my article addressing How Much Room Do Chickens Need for a more detailed explanation.
8. Turn Your Coop Lights Off During the Day
A good way to cool the coop off in the day is to turn the light off in there (if you have one). No matter what type of light you have in there, it does emit heat. Incandescent bulbs put off more heat than the fluorescent light bulbs. Even LED’s emit some heat. Just by turning them off, it can lower the temperature as much as a degree or two.
9. Provide Electrolytes for Your Chickens During Very Hot Weather
Chickens that are exposed to very hot weather can get stressed. When they get stressed their electrolytes can get off balanced. Provide electrolytes for your hot and stressed chickens by adding it to their water. This will help to stabilize their electrolyte levels.
I always keep Sav-a-Chick electrolytes from Amazon on hand just in case. They usually have pretty good prices on it there.
If you don’t have any electrolytes on hand, but have children’s Pedialyte, you can use this too. Just make sure that you get the unflavored one. You can also get generic Pedialyte at your local dollar store!
For more chicken supplies that you can purchase at your dollar store read my article, “23 Important Chicken Supplies – Purchase at the Dollar Store.“
10. Create Water Puddles for Chickens to Walk In
Chickens may not like to swim, but they will walk in water puddles, especially if they are hot! Wading in a few inches of water is a great way for them to lower their body temperature.
11. Provide a Cool Dust Bathing Spot
During extreme heat, provide a dust bathing spot for your chickens in the shade. Chickens dust bathe to remove parasites, but also to cool their body down.
If you know that it is going to be a hot day, spray off the soil in the chicken run and in their dust bathing area. By doing this, the soil will be cooler when they go to take a dust bath.
12. Allow Your Chickens to Free Range
If your chickens are usually locked up in the coop, let them out on a hot day to free-range. By allowing your flock to free range on hot days, they will instinctively seek out places on your property to keep cool.
They may dig a little hole to lay down in the cool dirt to lower their body temperature. Or you may see them under a shade tree foraging for bugs. They are good at finding cool spots to hang out!
Have you ever wondered if your chickens are really happy? Read my article, 9 Important Signs to Look For – Are Your Chickens Happy?.
13. Don’t Feed Scratch and Corn During Hot Spells
Scratch and corn take the body longer to digest. The increased work that the body takes for digestion of these foods causes an increase in their body temperature.
Winter time, or during cold weather, is a better time to offer these treats to chickens. A little corn or scratch before their bed time will help to keep them warmer at night as their body works to digest their food.
Instead of corn and scratch, offer your chickens treats that will help to cool them down. Some great alternatives would be watermelon, frozen berries, cantaloupe and frozen veggies.
14. Replace the Coop Door With a Screen Door
Chickens too hot in coop? By replacing your chicken coop door with a screen door, this will increase the ventilation and cool the coop down at the same time. A cooler coop equals a happier chicken!
15. Fill a Shallow Pan or Kiddie Pool With an Inch or Two of Water
Some chickens may be standoffish toward a kiddie pool. I have found that if you leave it out there a few days and if the weather is hot enough there always are a few brave chickens that will dip their feet in there.
Most chickens will happily walk through a shallow pan of water, muddying it up and then turn around to drink from the same dirty water. I don’t know why, but I can have all kinds of clean water containers out for them and they still prefer to drink from dirty water.
Emergency Situations – Heat Stroke and Extreme Heat Stress in Chickens
If you have tried all other measures to lower your chickens body temperature and you notice that he or she continues to decline, it is vital that you intervene. A chicken that cannot cool down can suffer a heat stroke and die.
I am not a vet. Call your vet for recommendations. Below are two last resort tips that I have found useful to help lower their body temperature.
Make sure your chicken first aid kit is fully stocked with the essentials. What is in your chicken first aid kit? For a list of the essentials, read my article What Do I Need in My Chicken First Aid Kit?.
16. Bathe Them in Cool (NOT COLD) Water
A chicken that is suffering from heat stroke can die if their temperature is not lowered. Gently pour cool, NOT COLD, water over their back, neck, stomach and legs. You do not want to use cold water because it can put your chicken into shock and they will die.
17. Bring them Indoors
If you just have a few chickens that are overheated, get a “sick cage” set up and bring them into your home where they can cool off and observe them. Make sure that you offer food and water with electrolytes in it for them while in their cage.
For more details on the dangers of bringing chickens indoors, read my article 7 Proven Dangers of Keeping Chickens in Your House.
F.A.Q.’s About Hot Weather and Chickens – Keep Chickens Cool in Extreme Heat
Can it be too hot for chickens?
Yes, it can get too hot for chickens, especially in the heat of the Summer. Anything over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and chickens begin feeling uncomfortable. With increased humidity, your flock can start feeling miserable even at 85 degrees.
Can hot weather kill chickens?
Hot weather can kill chickens and flock owners see this often in extreme heat. Chickens do not sweat, so they have a difficult time cooling down. When temperatures rise above 90 degrees, chickens are at risk of developing heat stress, if cooling measures aren’t taken.
Hot chickens are not happy and they need your help to help them cool down. Take as many steps as necessary to cool your flock down.
How do you tell if your chickens are too hot?
The most common signs your chicken is too hot is opening their mouth and spreading their wings away from their body. Other signs are dry, pale combs and waddles, a decrease in their egg production and eggs that are mis shaped.
Will chickens get in water to cool off?
Most chickens will not get in water to cool off, but they will walk in their water bowls and shallow puddles of water. Chickens can not swim, their feathers are not water resistant and they will sink if the water is too deep.
How can you tell if a chick is dehydrated?
A dehydrated chick may be lethargic, have its mouth opened, wings out from its body, pale, dry comb and waddle, diarrhea and not want to eat or drink. It can also be limp, unresponsive to stimuli and suffer from convulsions.
Why do chickens leave their mouth open?
If you see a chicken leaving its mouth open, the most common reason is they are hot. Chickens in hot weather will do this to cool off. They also do this when they are stressed or suffering from a respiratory illness.
When a chicken is hot it will open its mouth, panting, and you can see its little tongue move up and down. This is often paired with bringing its wings away from its body. Both of these are done as a cooling off mechanism.
Chickens do not sweat like humans. By opening its mouth, your chicken is bringing cooler air into its lungs and uses “evaporative cooling” to bring down its body temperature.
Keep Chickens Cool in Extreme Heat
Conclusion: As a chicken owner you are responsible for the well being of your pets. Make it a point to check on your flock more frequently during the heat. Keep chickens cool in the extreme heat by following as many of these tips as necessary.