Courtesy of Southern States Cooperative
For the most part chickens are low maintenance, but summer’s heat can cause significant stress for your feathered friends. As the temperature climbs, it’s important to monitor the weather and have a plan for how to care for your flock during periods of extreme conditions. Planning for summer chicken care will ensure that your animals have sufficient water on those very hot days. The poultry experts at Southern States have some helpful tips for keeping your chickens cool and hydrated during the heat of summer.
Although chickens are adaptable to weather changes, consistently high summer temperatures and sudden extreme conditions can cause your chickens to suffer from heat stress which can adversely impact egg production. In addition, the chance of illness and death can rise at an alarming rate when the temperatures suddenly soar. How can you tell when your chickens are overheated? Signs of heat stress include: open mouth panting, loss of appetite, wing spreading, and being lethargic or unresponsive. Summer poultry care requires making sure that your flock is kept hydrated so they can better tolerate the heat.
To protect your flock, follow these summer chicken hydration tips:
- Have fresh water available for your chickens at all times. Keeping your chickens hydrated with fresh, cool water is the best way to prevent overheating. This requires changing their drinking water several times a day. Water gets warm sitting outside for hours in the heat. Here’s a great tip: add ice cubes to the water containers. Also, set up watering stations in multiple locations in and around the chicken coop for easy, quick access.
- On really hot days, you can add electrolytes to the drinking water. It is a good idea to discuss this, and any supplements, with your vet first.
- Provide frozen treats for your flock to keep them cool and hydrated. Freeze plastic containers filled with berries and water. Have these on hand for really hot days. Your chickens will love to pick at the frozen berries. Another suggestion is to offer frozen slices of watermelon, frozen tomatoes and other frozen fruits to your chickens.
- Provide fresh grass and other favorite greens chopped up and floating in cold water. While eating the grass, your chickens are getting additional liquids to keep them hydrated.
Keeping your chickens hydrated is crucial to their health and will help ensure good egg production throughout the hot summer months. Monitor your chickens closely and look for changes in behavior; you are the best at determining if your chickens are suffering from heat stress.