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Relieving Heat Stress For Your Flock

Summer – it may take a while to arrive sometimes, but once those high temperatures set in, there’s no doubt that summertime is the right time to be more diligent about preventing or relieving heat stress for your poultry. Here is a quick list of ways we can help our feathered friends in the backyard keep their cool during the heat of summer.

Cool, Clean Water

Automatic waterers are great, but sometimes we forget about them. In the heat of summer, you might find it necessary to replenish and clean waterers more often. Chickens will stand in open water. If you have water pans they can stand in, their water will get dirtier than ever and if it’s their drinking water source, you might need to dump it and refill with clean water a couple of times a day.

Some chicken parents put ice blocks or ice cubes in outdoor water sources to keep the water cooler. Some folks also report that freezing water in plastic bottles and putting the entire sealed bottle of frozen water into their water pan provides a longer lasting chill than ice cubes. Some chickens will even get their own kiddie pools in the backyard!

To be clear, their water doesn’t have to be cold, it just shouldn’t be hot, or too dirty. If you have had, or expect to have a string of 5 or 6 days of extreme heat in a row, you might want to add electrolytes to their water once every couple of days. This can be obtained as a powder or liquid to be added to their regular waterer. You can even look up how to make homemade electrolyte solutions on the internet. Here’s one of the most basic recipes:

1 gallon of water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

From https://www.communitychickens.com/homemade-electrolytes-for-chickens/

Protection From Direct Sun

One of the simplest ways to help your chickens keep their cool is to give them shade. Many chicken coops are built up on legs, and this can give chickens a handy place to plop down in the shade and cool off, as long as it’s still got air flow. Another common source of shade can include shrubs and trees. Treelines along fences are a favorite hangout in some backyard chicken runs. You might also use awnings, tarps, tents, shadecloth, or even patio/beach umbrellas.

You might be thinking, heck, they can just go into the coop if they get tired of sunshine, but most coops can get pretty hot and stuffy in the summer. If you happen to have a coop with good air circulation and the temperature inside it is actually lower than outside, your chickens might indeed head for the coop during the hotter parts of the day. But if your coop is sealed up tighter than Fort Knox, you might want to consider adding shade of some sort to their run or yard.

Provide Cold Or Frozen Treats

There are lots of creative ways to provide cool treats for your chickens. Granted, there might be a few methods that work for some people’s birds but not for yours and that’s perfectly normal. You just have to figure out what your crew enjoys. Some common suggestions for chilled snacks include: refrigerated seedless grapes, refrigerated melons, frozen berries, chilled “flock blocks” made at home, refrigerated scrambled eggs, frozen peas, or frozen/ refrigerated diced fresh veggies.

Here’s one suggested chilled flock block that we found on the internet:

1 cup of water

1 cup of fresh berries or diced melon

Put into a plastic container and freeze

When solid, toss out into the run or hang from a branch

From https://homesteadandchill.com/keep-chickens-cool-hot-summer-weather/

In case your chickens don’t like the water or berries, or watermelon, you can replace either of the ingredients with something else that your chickens like, like plain yogurt and diced apple, or apple juice and diced jalapeno peppers. Remember, you don’t have to like the combination. 🙂

Do you have a favorite chicken treat recipe that you use in the Good Ole Summertime? We’d love to see it in the comments! 

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