It was 80 degrees in the shade at 9:30 this morning; here comes the heat. Time to get serious.
There is much conversation among new chickeneers about cold weather. How will I protect my chickens in winter? Should I insulate my coop? Should I heat my coop? The truth of the matter is, heat is a much greater danger to your chickens than cold. Too much cold might injure your chickens; too much heat will kill them.
Last year, when 1.0 was the age 2.0 is now, we had a heat wave like the one we’re experiencing today. It was scary to watch as my chicks began to pant, then to hold their wings out from their bodies, then, finally, to cry in distress. The first two stages are not cause for alarm; the last might well be.
So, how to keep your chickens cool when it’s, now, 94 degrees in the shade? The most important things are to make sure your chickens have plenty of cool water and moving air. Our Brahmas, in particular, suffer in the heat. They’re super sized and have those feathered feet: great in the winter; not so great in the summer. They suffer first.
When I know weather in the 90s is coming, I stock up on ice cubes and fill a spare juice jug or two with water and place in a freezer overnight. The ice cubes keep their water cool, and the frozen jugs radiate coolness in the coop. I’ve heard of chickeneers who will place a large plastic tub, one side cut out, upside down over a frozen jug of water, creating a little cool room. Should it ever get over 100 here, I’ll give that a try.
Any treats you might usually give to the chickens can be frozen, provided they have some water content. Fruit, veggies, even cut grass or flowers petals will do nicely. I am a HUGE fan of greens. Spinach, chard, kale, collards…I do it all. The greens I planted this year are doing fabulously in the new garden:
I have a hard time giving these away, and I can’t figure why; I eat the stuff by the pound. I am slowly slipping them into my family’s food supply, but I have to be stealthy. Fortunately, the chickens agree with me.
Knowing this heat wave was coming, I decided to harvest all the lower leaves of my chard, collards, and kale, all the leaves that were a little old, or bug eaten, or too close to the soil. No washing necessary; I chopped them into small squares, sand, bugs and all, and placed them in a large grocery bag, in the freezer overnight. Today, the chickens are enjoying some of their favourite greens, but frosty.
1.0 is used to leafy treats. and the idea of eating frozen veggies, and caught on right away. 2.0 wasn’t quite sure to do with the greens, so they just stood on them.
Hey, whatever works, baby; stay cool!!