5 Ways to Keep Your Flock Cool This Summer

Feelin' hot, hot, hot!

Summer isn't always a breeze

There’s no better feeling than coming back inside from the garden and sipping on some ice cold water in front of a stream of cool air (three cheers for air conditioning. Hip, hip, hooray!). While a little discomfort from those 90 degree days can seem harmless, it can lead to heat exhaustion and dehydration if we’re not careful.

Chickens also need relief from those hot summer scorchers to prevent heat stress, a dangerous illness caused from overheating.

Here are five ways to help keep your flock cool and healthy this summer:
1. Water

Water is our best friend when it comes to cooling down. Serve it freely and plentifully to your flock so they can drink as much as they need. Chickens are great self regulators, and will eat and drink as much as they need. Remember to place feed and water in a shaded, cooler area. For extra comfort, add some ice to cool their water (see benefits below). To encourage your flock to drink more during a heat wave, try placing their protein snacks in their water. This way, they can go "bobbing" for their favorite snack and gobble up some water along the way.

2. Overcrowding

Overcrowding means that your chicken’s natural body heat (104°F) is multiplied by all of its flockmates. That’s a lot of unwanted heat generated that can lead to heat stress, increased pecking, and even cannibalism. The good news is it’s completely avoidable. Simply provide enough space for your chickens to retreat from each other and the heat.

3. Fans/Ventilation

A fan will be your flocks favorite addition to the coop, allowing them to get a precious breeze under their fluffy down. They’ll love it even more if you place frozen gallon jugs of water in front of it to really cool it down. At a minimum, make sure that your coop has enough ventilation to allow the hot air to escape and bring in any breezes.

4. Shade

Sweet, summer shade is crucial. Shade blocks solar radiation (the harmful UV rays that burn your skin and make it feel so much hotter). The ground beneath a tree means cooler dust baths too, making it easier to regulate temperature and avoid heat stress.

5. Freeze EVERYTHING

Sipping ice water cools us from the inside out and helps regulate temperature. The same principles apply to your flock. Providing cool water can reduce stress on your flock and help them regulate their temperature. You can also freeze watermelon before putting it out for your chickens to help cool them down. For picky eaters, sprinkle some farm-grown grubs over the frozen fruit to encourage them to eat it. This extra protein on top of a cold snack will help help fuel and cool your chickens.