Chicken Care: Staying Cool in the Sweltering Heat


A photo of Michelle HernadezWe Texans may be babies when it comes to cold, but we know how to handle heat. Well, usually we do.

This year has been a brutal summer with little relief in sight. We are in extreme drought conditions. We already have had triple digit Fahrenheit temperatures for 26 days – and summer is just getting started. We may get some possible relief from La Niña, but that is not likely until late fall.

At least most Texans can escape the heat in air conditioning in their cars, in stores, or at home. But what about the chickens?

It’s been quite sad to see the recent surge in chicken obits posted on the backyard poultry forums in my area. It has been indiscriminating as to the forum poster – some seasoned chicken owners, others new.

I had been concerned about my flock and had already tried some serious measures. If I could have A/C, I thought, I wanted them to, as well. I started bringing my flock in and putting them in large dog crates in our sun room. Between the chickens, dogs, and cat, not to mention the turkey poults from babysitting, the room looked – and honestly, smelled – a bit like an indoor barnyard. Further, cleaning the crates regularly was a bit impractical for my schedule. I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a practical longer-term solution, so I started thinking about what else I could do to keep my chickens cool.

My birds free-range, but they do go to their coop for laying eggs, eating, and roosting in the evening. Here are my steps for a cooler coop:

8/5/2020 9:41:09 AM

I haven't done this but always thought it would be a good idea. (You will need electricity) Take a Styrofoam cooler. Freeze a gallon milk jug with water. cut a whole in the top small or big enough to support a small desk fan. Cut 1 hole in 2-4 sides about 3 inches wide. I think you can put short pieces of PVC in them to create support for the cooler. Place the fan on top so that the air blows INTO the cooler, across the frozen milk jug and out through the holes.

8/5/2020 8:27:23 AM

Would love that swamp cooler, Richard! With triple digits for weeks. I do the vortex fan, and have cool water, changed frequently, in the shade along with a small pool in the run. The hens spill their water and play in it all by themselves! Can't free range here, and we have extreme winds, but the fan is tied down, and the screened windows help. I also give a wedge of watermelon in the afternoons, as well as other melons. The hens can get into their coop which has it's back to the hot, Western afternoon heat, and a big juniper for shade. I feel for those who cannot be home to care for their flock during the day, and for those losing their chickens. It's just been a terrible summer for most of us.

7/21/2014 2:28:36 PM

It gets quite hot here in the Sacramento Valley too (CA). For those triple digits days, I keep watermelon in the freezer or fridge. I cut off big hunks and put it out for the birds (I have about 40 chickens). It hydrates and cools them, and the LOVE it. I do the same with some of those giant cucumbers that I find hiding. They especially like the seeds.

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