Summer is here! Summer is a time for relaxation, trips to the beach, and vacations. Summer also brings a new set of challenges to your backyard chickens. The heat can truly take it out of your birds! Here’s what you should know.
Heat Causes Lots of Problems
As the temperature climbs, your chickens’ productivity drops. Egg laying decreases or stops altogether. Broilers stop gaining weight. Chickens get lethargic. Given too much heat, chickens die. Heat is a serious issue for backyard farmers, especially in hot climates.
Some Breeds Fare Better than Others
Did you know that birds without combs are more susceptible to the heat? Certain breeds, such as the white leghorn, do better with heat. Large, heavily feathered birds are more susceptible to heat than their smaller, thinner counterparts. Males tend to fare better than females and non-laying chickens do better with heat than layers.
Other heat-tolerant breeds include the Ancona, the Plymouth Rock, the Catalana, Golden Campines, Blue Andalusians, and the Rhode Island breeds. Avoid large, heavily feathered breeds.
Summer-Proofing Your Coop
Before you construct your coop, keep in mind how the sun will fall on it. Use wide overhangs, put windows and the open side of the coop from the east to the west, and consider evaporative coolers and fans to keep air moving. The best spot for your coop is somewhere with adequate shade and plenty of ventilation. Windows are your friends!
Keep a ready supply of cool water available for your birds and remove much of the coop’s litter. A mister can keep your birds cool too. Provide them with shade and try to keep the chickens out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Keep a lookout for panting and signs of lethargy and avoid feeding your birds corn or scratch during the summer months because your chickens will create body heat trying to digest these things. Fruit and vegetable scraps are a much better option. Add ice to that water to keep it cool on the hottest days.