Hot, hot, hot.

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!!


8 thoughts on “Hot, hot, hot.

  1. We’re up to 95 today. I’m dying in this office. The humidity is killing me! 60% is really too much when it’s this warm.

    My chicks are a bit fussy right now. They do love a frozen banana though!

      • Oh, DO I??? It doesn’t feel like winning… I’m not complaining. They all did great, although even 2.0 was panting and holding their wings out by bedtime. Today will be the worst, then slow improvement.

      • Okay, so you lose in the uncomfortable department. I can’t imagine.. It rarely gets hotter than this all summer. This one is going to be hot. If our winter was this mild, I can only imagine the summer.

        At least we didn’t have to use heat lamps last night. Thank God it goes down to 14 overnight. It’s nice to have a break.

        Next week is all rain. And it’s my vacation. I am a little bummed about that!

  2. I’m facing the same problem here in Detroit- I just wrote a post about the evaporative cooler I made for my buffs after seeing them struggling with the heat. They seem to be doing a million times better after I set it up, so long as they remember to go into the cool area of the run (when they were out foraging they completely forgot about the cool area and had to be led back to the run to cool down).

  3. I’ve been feeding the girls cold watermelon slices, and they LOVE yogurt with frozen berries mixed in! But yeah… it’s brutal here right now. It’s more like early August than middle-June here.

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