Do you have chickens? You’ll need to be extra careful at this time of year. The heat can be rough on our feathered buddies. In fact, any time temps go over 90, your birds are in danger of heat stress. Chickens can’t sweat, so their only way of releasing heat is from their combs, feet, beaks, and wattles. A Greater Cincinnati vet discusses keeping chickens cool below.
First things first: Make sure that your birds always have access to shade and cool water. You can even try adding ice to their water. Many birds like sitting on swings, so you can try that. If you don’t have a lot of trees, put up some shade canopies.
In winter, extra bedding helps keep chickens warm. In summer, keep bedding less than two inches deep. Any more than that will trap heat, which is the last thing you want.
Keeping the air flowing through your coop is very important, especially when it’s hot. Just make sure that any screen or mesh portions are predator-proof. Another option is to try a fan. There are solar-powered ones that work great for coops!
Birds suffer more during sudden heat waves than they do in prolonged hot weather. Be extra vigilant when temperatures spike!
Want to really spoil your flock? Pop their feed into the fridge or freezer before you put it out. This will let them enjoy a yummy cold meal. It can also help prevent overheating, as keeping cold food in their crops brings chickens’ body temperatures down. You can also give your winged pal frozen treats, like watermelon and strawberries.
You’ve likely experienced hot, crowded rooms before. Chickens give off a lot of heat, so putting too many birds in together will make the coop dangerously hot. Ask your vet for more information.
Give your flock a kiddie pool, and see if they like it. They’ll need to get used to it, so keep it out all summer.
Overheating chickens may pant, hold their wings out from their bodies, stop eating, or act droopy and tired. You may also notice paling or discoloration on their wattles. Call your vet if you see any of these red flags.
Do you have questions or concerns about chicken care? Contact us, your Greater Cincinnati veterinary clinic, today!