There are a few things you can do before you rush off to work in the morning, although having a friend or neighbour pop around during the middle of the day as a precautionary check-up is a good idea on days of extreme temperatures.
Do not give any Apple Cider Vinegar in the drinking water during hot days. Just replace their water sources daily.
Signs of heat stress
- Spread wings
- Open panting beak
- Lethargy, weakness or droopy behaviour
- Closed eyes
- Lying down
- Lost body weight
- Very pale wattle and comb
- Increased thirst
- Decreased or ceased appetite
- Drop in egg production
Top 10 ways to keep chickens cool
Always ensure that the chickens have clean, fresh water daily.
Pop a refreezable ice block into their water container to keep the water refreshingly chilled. Replace daily.
Alternatively you can use regular ice blocks, however, using jumbo sized one such as ice frozen in yoghurt containers last longer than the standard small cubes.
Put out extra containers of water throughout the garden under shady bushes or in an area that will stay shady for longer.
As a little extra treat, freeze some strawberries and mint leaves in a small ice cubes and pop them into a water bowl. This is a good idea if you suspect that your hens' appetite and thirst has significantly decreased.
Set up the sprinkler in shady spots to water the ground for added cool comfort. The chickens may not go under the sprinkler while it is on, but as soon as it is turned off they will discover what a lovely cool spot to hang out in.
Take advantage of areas such as under large trees and bushes where they like to go the most often, as well as under the trampoline.
Move the sprinkler throughout the day to different shady spots.
Chickens love to keep their feet cool to moderate their body temperature.
Open all the vents in the coop to allow for maximum air flow.
Use mini trapaulins to help shield the hens from the sun on the sunniest side of the coop. Do not encase the entire coop as the air flow is essential for cooling.
To create evaporative air conditioning in the coop, cut open a hessian sack (eg. Laukie Mills), wire the top of the bag to the coop side and wet thoroughly with the hose until dripping. Hose down throughout the day whenever the bag looks too dry.
The evaporate cooling is most effective on breezy/windy days.
Offer coolingl treats such as chilled rockmelon, watermelon and berries.
Since melons and berries have a higher water content it will certainly help to keep your flock's hydration levels up.
Their droppings may be a little more looser after a big feast of melon, so keep that in mind, rather than jump to the conculsion of a bacterial infection.
Frozen fruit in large ice cubes will also keep them interested for hours.
Installing a fan in your coop and run will help the air flow and cooling.
Ensure that you have a safe power supply that is not exposed to the elements and will not cause you or the chickens any harm in its location.
Ideal for the non-free range flock.
Misters are usually used by commercial farmers on a large scale, but kits are easily able to be modified for smaller chicken sheds.
Misters will not suit every coop as it may be a little too much water and weight for the small coops, wetting the coop's timber a little too much to the point of rotting.
The most effective misters are placed high in galvanised shedding and allow the air flow to assist with the cooling.
Chickens may not like sprinklers but they LOVE misters.
Believe it or not, chickens don't mind a little water to paddling about in. Many backyard pool owners who have chickens have often reported that their hens like to float around like a duck.
Choose a sturdy hard plastic rather than a soft blow-up plastic as their claws could puncture the softer material. Hard plastic paddling pools are easily cleanable and very cheap.
Place near nesting area for added cooling comfort.
Use various sizes and as many as you need so long as they do not hinder the hens from accessing and sitting comfortably to lay.