5 Tips for Helping your Chickens Handle a Heatwave


If you live in the South in a hot climate, where you deal with heat and humidity on a regular basis, then you should have all sorts of safeguards in place to keep your backyard flock cool in the summertime.
You likely raise heat-tolerant breeds, and your coop is probably very well-ventilated and set in a shady area. 

You might have fans or even air conditioning running in your coop.

But what if you live in a place where it doesn't generally get much warmer than 80 degrees F. on a typical summer day? 
What if your coop is better protected against the cold than the heat? What if it's positioned in full sun. 
All. Day. Long. like ours is?

And what if they're predicting a sudden heatwave?

What then?

Fortunately heatwaves typically only last a few days, so here are some quick tips that can help your chickens (and ducks) brave the sudden rise in temperature that you can put in place almost at a moments notice.

5 Tips for Handling a Heatwave


Cold Water 

Chickens, like all animals, need plenty of water to drink. 
And they won't drink warm water - they will dehydrate before drinking warm water.
So it's important to fill and refill their water containers many times throughout the day when the mercury rises to be sure they always have cool water.
Adding ice cubes or an ice block to their water is helpful too.
So when a heatwave is predicted, I always make some extra ice cubes and will even freeze water in loaf pans that I can place in the chicken and ducks' water tubs to keep it cool.
Freezing chopped fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries into ice cube trays or muffins tins is another quick and easy way to provide your flock a cooling treat.
And of course give your ducks a kiddie pool to splash around in.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes can help your flock replenish minerals and re-balance their body pH in times of extreme heat, so adding some electrolytes to their water is critical.
Plain pedialyte will work, or electrolytes specifically formulated for poultry, or you can easily mix up your own electrolyte powder. 
I keep some on hand at all times in the summer months, ready to stir into their water at a moment's notice.
 


Cooling | Water-Laden Treats

Offering chilled watermelon, cucumber slices or frozen berries is another way to keep your chickens cool and give them something to eat other than their regular feed.
So when a heatwave is predicted, I be sure to stock up on melon and berries.

My flock also loves when I pour cold water over their regular layer crumble and turn it into a cool mash-like consistency. 


And that way, they're getting nutrition while also getting some more fluids, which is important in the heat.
And that's something that's so easy to do as you refill waters - just pour some fresh, cold water over their feed.

Shade, Shade and more Shade

Of course shade is really important. 
If your coop and run are in full sun, then putting tarps or shade cloth over the top will provide them shade while still allowing for air flow through the enclosure.
An old shower curtain or sheet will work too.

Anything to provide as much shade for as much of the day as possible for your flock.
Filling a galvanized tub or kiddie pool with dirt and setting it in the shade will help your chickens stay cooler as well.
The love to wriggle down into the cool dirt on a hot day.
If you can, let them free range.

They're likely to find a cooler spot in your yard than you could create for them in their run.
And predators aren't likely to be out hunting at the peak of the heatwave anyway, so the risks are lessened.

Open Air Nesting Area

Since my coop sits in the full sun all day and gets terribly hot when the temperature rises, I like to close it up and not allow my chickens into it during a heatwave until dusk.
This allows me to open both large doors and all the windows and keep air flowing - and even spray the roof down periodically with a hose - to try and cool it down as much as possible before dark. 
This way I don't have to worry about my girls sitting in the hot coop to lay their eggs - or even worse, risk a broody sitting in the coop all day.
The only problem is that then no one can get to the nesting boxes to lay their eggs.
But this is easily remedied by setting up an "open air" nesting area somewhere in the run in the shade.

It can be a box or crate or basket filled with nesting material.

Your girls will appreciate it.

These few simple tips should help your flock get through the next few days' heatwave as comfortably as possible.
I know that I for one am counting they days until we get our first snowfall! You can keep this heat!
Further Reading
5 Easy Ways to Summerize your Run
5 Things your Chickens DON'T Need this Summer
Help your Chickens Beat the Summer Heat
How Do Chickens Stay Cool?
DIY Electrolyte Ice Cubes
How to Make Homemade Electrolytes
5 Best Summertime Treats
Treat your flock to all natural Fresh Eggs Daily® feed supplements! 



Brewers Yeast with Garlic | Organic Coop Kelp | Poultry Probiotics

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