Summer is a great time of the year; it’s when your garden starts to flourish and the rain begins to fall. That said, it can be a difficult time of the year for your flock. Chickens don’t do well in hot temperatures, and anything above 90 degrees can quickly spell trouble, even more so than cold conditions. To keep your chickens safe, you’ll need to take a few essential precautions.

Fortunately, there are proven ways to keep your chickens cool during the hot summer months, and most are easy to implement and cost little money. Take a look at 10 of our favorite chicken-cooling methods here!

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Top 10 Tips on How to Keep Chickens Cool In The Summer:

1. Give them plenty of shade

chickens in a coop
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This may seem obvious, but one of the primary ways to keep your flock cool during the summer months is to provide them with plenty of shade. This can be with shady trees in the yard or a stretched shade cloth that they can access to cool down underneath. Even something as simple as an umbrella can help, but if you’ve got a large flock, a permanent porch may be a better long-term solution.

2. Provide cold, fresh water

Your chickens should always have access to fresh water, no matter the temperature, and in summer, this is all the more vital to prevent dehydration, something that can happen quickly in hot weather. You may need to refill their water several times a day, but providing them will cool water will help keep them cool throughout the day. Of course, you should try to keep their water source in the shade, and you can even add ice to keep it cooler for longer.

3. Provide cold fruit treats

chickens eating watermelon
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High-carb treats can help keep chickens warm in winter, so in summer, they will naturally have the opposite effect. High-moisture treats like watermelon or strawberries are great on summer days, all the more so if you freeze them first! Your chickens will love them, and they’ll help keep your chickens cool. Of course, moderation is key and be mindful of overfeeding.

4. Keep their coop well-ventilated

Ventilation is key in your flock’s coop, even in cold weather, but all the more so during the summer months. Make sure your coop has screened, predator-proof openings that allow airflow in and out of the coop. You may even need to install a fan if space allows or swap out a door for mesh fencing — anything to improve circulation.

5. Keep their coop clean

The “deep litter method” is a great way of controlling your chicken’s waste and bedding and even helps keep your chicken’s coop warm during colder months. In summer, though, you’ll want to keep their coop clean and tidy and free from too much insulating material, like bedding. A good rule of thumb is to keep the bedding under 2 inches deep.

6. Give them a bathing pool!

While chickens are not known for their swimming skills, a small, shallow bathing pool or mud bath in the shade is a great way to keep your flock cool. They’ll love keeping their feet in the cool water, and this will help them regulate their body temperature. Small stepping-stones or bricks placed inside the pool will help your flock feel safe.

7. Freeze their feed

Even in hot weather, chickens need their usual nutritionally balanced feed. While this can get their digestive system working and thus warm them up, freezing their feed for a few hours before feeding can help reduce this and actually help cool them down. Chickens also tend to eat less during hot weather, and this is also a great way to make their food more appetizing.

8. Provide a dust bath

Soil a few inches below the surface is cooler than surface soil, and chickens will often scratch and dig to not only clean themselves but also to keep cool. Providing your chickens with a dedicated area to dust-bathe in — preferably in the shade — can help keep them cool and make for healthier, happier chickens overall.

9. Set up misters or sprinklers

lawn-sprinkler spewing water
Image Credit: ariesa66, Pixabay

Setting up a mister in your chicken coop is a great way to cool it and your flock down, and you can even install a mister under a shady tree for very hot days. This can help cool the ground down substantially, and if it’s hot enough outside, your chickens will be fighting for a spot underneath the cooling water vapor! It’s a great option because it does not wet your chicken much but cools them significantly, even when there’s no shade.

10. Use frozen water bottles

Lastly, freezing a few water bottles and placing them around your chicken’s nesting boxes and in and around their coop can provide them with cooling relief for when they choose. You can use frozen milk containers, water bottles, or jugs, and simply place them in the places that your chickens love.

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Signs That Your Chicken Has Heat Fatigue

Generally, any temperature above 90 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot for your flock. High temperatures like this combined with humidity can be deadly for chickens, and you’ll need to employ the discussed methods to ensure your flock’s safety.

Signs of heat fatigue or heat stress in chickens include:
  • Heavy breathing
  • Outstretched wings
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased egg production
  • Pale combs and wattles

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Final Thoughts

Summer can be a difficult time for your flock, but thankfully, there are a few ways to make it better and even pleasurable for your chickens. Even just using a couple of these methods can help dramatically and reduce the chances of heat-related illness or death in your flock.

Featured Image Credit: Carl Jones Photography, Shutterstock