Chickens: Surviving the Heat

June 4, 2018

Memorial Day weekend brought an unpleasant and unexpected heat wave to the upper Midwest. All time high temperature records shattered as the mercury hovered near 100 degrees. Hardly a breeze wafted across the land, but clouds of gnats attacked any warm-blooded creature that dared venture outside. The combination of heat plus gnats killed many chickens. Normally July and August are the hot months, so flock owners have some time to take action to keep their birds as cool as possible. This unexpected heat-wave and the swarms of gnats did in four of my neighbor’s chickens.

Here are simple actions that can be done to reduce heat and gnat stress:

Short Term Fixes

  • Install mosquito netting over windows to supplement the wire netting. The larger wire keeps big predators out. The netting keeps gnats and mosquitoes at bay.
  • Put a fan in the coop to create a breeze.
  • Spray the coop’s exterior with water from a hose a couple of times each day. Evaporation will cool the inside of the coop a few degrees.
  • Encourage calmness in the flock. Excited chickens heat up, so minimize activity that could rile them up.
  • Keep waterers full and add a few extra ones so birds don’t have to walk far to take a drink.
  • Move a picnic table into a sunny run to produce instant shade for the chickens beneath it.

Longer Term Permanent Fixes

  • Insulate the coop.
  • Plant trees that will eventually provide afternoon coop.
  • Plant a bush in the run that shades a patch of ground.
  • Buy heat tolerant breeds if elevated temperature is normal in the area.

Article submitted by: Winding Pathways, LLC

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More about Rich & Marion Patterson

Rich Patterson is a retired naturalist that enjoys raising chickens in his urban backyard. His experience in practical chicken keeping and homesteading will keep you enjoying life your with chickens!

    1. Another couple of things that help keep chickens cool: freeze a half of a watermelon and then set it out as a treat. Also empty cans of corn of corn into a muffin tin and freeze it and then set it out for them to snack on. It’s a double bonus: they get a treat and the icy goodness helps keep them cool and hydrated.

    1. I ordered some sapphire gem chickens and was wondering if you received any complaints from other people that ordered them, for some reason the gems seem to have problems with their legs. The legs seem to be very weak

      1. Hi Mary! Thank you for reaching out about this! I checked with our customer service ladies and they havent heard of this either. I would try putting some vitamins and electrolytes in their water. Usually leg problems mean a vitamin deficiency. Thanks!

    1. My chickens love a foot bath to stand in and cool off. I have a couple around the yard. They will go to them and stand for a few minutes, sometimes two will stand together.

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