Keeping Your Chickens Cool and Safe in the Summer

Back in January, we published a blog post called Caring for Your Chickens in Cold Weather. Now that summer is finally here to stay for a while, we thought it would be a good idea to review some warm weather tips for keeping your chickens comfortable. This is essential because chickens can die from heat stress and hens may not be able to lay eggs. 

It can be hard to know when your chickens are overheated because they don’t have the ability to sweat. That means you have to watch for certain behavior. Just like domesticated animals, chickens pant to release excess body heat. A chicken may be experiencing heat-related illness if it pants heavily and holds its wings away from the body. Listlessness and labored breathing are signs of heatstroke as well. Here are several things you can to do prevent that from happening:

  • Make sure your chickens have plenty of space in their coop. Because a chicken’s natural body temperature is 107 degrees, they release a lot of heat and moisture in a small space. It will be hard for them to stay cool if you have too many birds in too small of a space. If you keep full-sized birds, plan to allow four square feet for each one. 
  • Place the coop and run in the shade if possible. Under a tree is ideal, as is the shade thrown by another building. Setting up the coop and run to take advantage of a natural breeze can also help to keep chickens cool and comfortable. Good ventilation is essential, so make sure air moves freely to remove heat and moisture. If the air seems stifled, consider placing a fan in the coop to improve ventilation.
  • Your chickens need access to fresh, clean drinking water to stay healthy and hydrated in the summer months. Be sure to check the temperature of the water often and replace if it has become too warm to drink. Your chickens will drink more when the water is cool. Keeping drinking water in the shade helps to keep it cool naturally.
  • A layer of fabric or straw on top of the run provides additional shade for your chickens. Tarps can serve this purpose also and have the added benefit of blocking the sun’s heat. You may also want to consider keeping a mist bottle in the coop and spraying it throughout the day.

Please schedule an appointment with Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you’re concerned that your chickens have become overheated or would like more information on their care. 
 
Image Credit:  Getty Images

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species
651-487-1941

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128
651-501-3766

 

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)
651-293-1800